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"Ignored" evidence may lead to re-opening of Madeleine case

Updated: 11-Feb-2010
Special Report by CHRIS GRAEME at Lisbon Civil Court

Gerry and Kate McCann with new Find Madeleine posters outside Lisbon Civil Court on Wednesday. Photo: CHRIS GRAEME/ IBERIA IMAGES

Lawyers acting on behalf of Kate and Gerry McCann and Goncalo Amaral admitted in Lisbon on Wednesday (February 10) that evidence ignored by police investigators could pave the way for the Madeleine Case to be reopened.

The lawyers were speaking outside the Lisbon Civil Court, Tribunal Civel de Lisboa, on the last day of an injunction case which the McCanns hope will permanently ban publication of Madeleine – the Secret of the Lie, the book which purports that the three-year-old toddler died in a tragic accident in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, and that the parents tried to conceal the body.

Isabel Duarte, representing the McCanns, who were in Lisbon at the hearing, said that there was “evidence that could compromise the Policia Judiciária investigation” in Portimao and pave the way for “the reopening of the Madeleine Case”.

The firebrand lawyer, who caused a sensation in the highly-charged court room in her passionate summing up deliberations by using emotive words against the book, the author, its publishers and a television channel, such as vultures, crows and vampires attracted to the “smell of fresh meat” said that she had attempted to show that the PJ had “undervalued successive sightings of a child” which the British police had given credence too.

Kate McCann and the family lawyer Isabel Duarte outside Lisbon Civil Court on Wednesday. Photo: CHRIS GRAEME/ IBERIA IMAGES.


“What I saw was various relevant pieces of information, photographs, some of them shocking, similar to the girl, places and car number plates,” she said, which the McCanns had not been called in to identify, but which could show that a girl like Madeleine could have been in Spain or Italy.

When pressed further, Isabel Duarte said that Inspector Ricardo Paiva, the Chief Investigator in the case after Goncalo Amaral’s removal for allegedly criticising British police, “had been reported as having received sightings of Madeleine” but then later, in court, changed his story.

“What I heard, and this is taped (in court), is that Inspector Paiva said he believed the girl was dead and so, straight off, that means no one is going to investigate a girl that’s alive, don’t you think?” she said.

Isabel Duarte said that French, Spanish and British investigators had confirmed that the leads “were promising” but that the Portuguese investigators “didn’t take them seriously and follow them up”.

In a statement outside the court house, Gerry McCann said that the couple would be delighted if the case were reopened.

“We have no problem with that but what we need is real investigation not dismissal,” he said as both issued a fresh plea for the Portuguese to come forward with any information about Madeleine.


Kate McCann said that listening to the allegations had been difficult but that nothing could be as bad as losing her daughter.

In the fourth day of what has proved a sensational and media-driven case, two last witnesses were called in defence of Goncalo Amaral, Eduardo Damaso, Editor-in-Chief of daily Portuguese tabloid Correio da Manha, and Luis Froes, the General Managing Director of Valentim Carvalho Films, the company that produced the TVI documentary based on the thesis put forward by Goncalo Amaral in his book.

Both told the court about the distribution arrangements for 75,000 copies of the DVD of the film, which first was aired on TVI and subsequently ended up being illegally posted on the internet.

The court heard how 10,000 copies of the DVD were produced and given away in a special edition of Correio da Manha for a limited period of time before many copies were recalled for destruction but that many could have been sold at newspaper outlets and kiosks well beyond that period in breach of an injunction.  

It also emerged in the court that the McCanns are launching fresh criminal proceedings at the Oeiras Criminal Court against TVI over the allegations broadcast about Madeleine’s death.

Isabel Duarte told the court that by airing the documentary and producing its DVD copies, both the TV station, TVI, the film company Valentim Carvalho Films and the newspaper were in “material breach” of the court injunction issued to prevent repeating allegations made in the book as well as Goncalo Amaral’s famous statement in the film that during the course of the documentary he would “prove that Madeleine McCann was not kidnapped but died in the apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007”.

Defending Goncalo Amaral, Antonio Cabrita, asked what was so special about the book, when several other journalists and writers had written about the Madeleine Case.

“Maybe there is a problem with the book because it is too close to the truth,” he said.

The Guerra e Paz publisher’s lawyer also criticised the McCanns for using the media when it suited their ends but then trying to gag the media when their interest and investigations didn’t suit their line of argument.

“The company has published another book called the McCann’s Guilt but that has not been banned,” he said.

“Citizens should be concerned that a court may forbid Goncalo Amaral to talk about the case. After all he has the authority to speak about it because he was the Chief Investigator,” he said.

Live in freedom

“I refute the idea that any Portuguese citizen is forbidden to talk about this case and I hope that you (the judge) will give me back the pride of being Portuguese and to live in freedom,” said Antonio Cabrita.

Isabel Duarte said that freedom of expression didn’t mean that any doorman or taxi driver in Portugal should be able to act as judge and jury on the McCanns on the strength of unfounded and unproven allegations.

The McCanns’ team added that the couple had been put through a “Kafkaesque” process where on the one hand the parents were attacked for showing “lack of initiative” and then attacked for being proactive in “going to the media” to help them find their daughter.

Isabel Duarte and her team then suggested that Goncalo Amaral had published his book out of revenge for being removed from the case and “to make profits.”

She labelled him, the publisher and the TV station as “vampires” by trying to cash in on the parents’ suffering and called them “vultures drawn by the smell of fresh meat.”

The judge, Maria Gabriela Cunha Rodrigues, is to make a ruling on the book at 10.30am on Thursday, February 18.


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