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Amaral threatens to take case to European Court

By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]

Gonçalo Amaral, the former police detective and author of a book promoting the hypothesis that Madeleine McCann died as a result of a tragic accident in Praia da Luz in May 2007, said on January 14 that if a Lisbon court issued a permanent injunction against his work, he would fight his case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Amaral, who led the investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine from a holiday apartment before being removed from the case, said he would also appeal against any injunction through Portugal’s Supreme Court.

However, Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, say that Gonçalo Amaral’s book contains his opinions rather than fact which differ from the findings in the PJ files which concluded that there was “no evidence that Madeleine is dead and that there is no evidence that Gerry and Kate McCann were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance”.

At the end of the three-day court case at Lisbon Civil Tribunal last week, the McCanns’ lawyer Isabel Duarte said that the couple would instigate criminal proceedings against Gonçalo Amaral, the author of Maddie – A Verdade da Mentira (Maddie – the Truth of the Lie), for revealing details of the police criminal investigation into the disappearance of their daughter in his book and to the book publisher Guerra e Paz when the case was still bound by judicial confidentiality.

The same argument is being used against the television station TVi and the producers of a documentary shown on the same channel, which repeated unproven theories put forward by Gonçalo Amaral with regards to the disappearance of Madeleine.

Kate McCann stressed on the Findmadeleine website: “This (case) is about whether the book is a true reflection of the official judicial process into Madeleine’s disappearance and whether its contents damage the ongoing search for Madeleine, her siblings and our reputations.

“Mr. Amaral’s book and the DVD contain some information from the PJ files but there is a lot in the files which is not in Mr. Amaral’s book. Hence it is highly selective and therefore biased,” she adds.

During the hearing, crime expert Francisco Moita Flores attacked the decision by Gerry and Kate McCann to seek a permanent injunction over the publication of the book as “pathetic”.

On the second day of the hearing at the Tribunal Cível de Lisboa on January 13, the respected professor and one-time policeman for over 20 years, lashed out at what he called an attack on “liberty and freedom of expression” in attempts to permanently ban the book.

“The book is a thesis and not an absolute truth,” Francisco Moita Flores added.

He added that in no part of the judicial process had the police or Gonçalo Amaral ever affirmed that the parents had been somehow involved in the death of the child and that the good name of the McCann family had “not been attacked”.  

Gerry McCann, addressing journalists outside the court house last week, maintained that the book and its insinuations had “damaged the search” for Madeleine.

“I’d like to remind everyone that it’s the book that is on trial, not Kate and I,” he said, adding that there was “absolutely no evidence to support Mr. Amaral’s thesis”.    

Meanwhile, Kate McCann has downplayed the role of British police sniffer dogs, which a Lisbon court was told last week “became excited” on entering the family’s Praia da Luz holiday apartment.

On the FindMadeleine website, which was updated at the end of last week following  the court case, Kate McCann states: “We realise that the behaviour of the dogs was the turning point in the investigation for the PJ. The use of dogs has proved to be problematic and unreliable in previous cases.”

The injunction case reconvenes in Lisbon on February 10 to hear two further witnesses and a separate libel case to sue for 1.2 million pounds in damages is expected at some point this year.