Body of missing photojournalist found in boot of “abandoned car”

Following a whole afternoon in which one television station repeatedly focused on the discovery of the Alfa Romeo said to belong to missing Lisbon photojournalist Pedro Palma, the awful truth finally dawned.

Throughout CMTV’s filming of the vehicle parked in a one-way street in São Pedro de Sintra, the 58-year-old’s body lay in the boot.

The 24-hour station actually took close-ups of the car, with the reporter repeatedly describing how there were “no signs of violence” or anything untoward.

“The car was well-parked” came the commentary, adding that “inside some photography books signed by Pedro Palma were visible”.

There was no indication that while the footage was being beamed into thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of national households, the hunt for the missing man was effectively over.

The car was later loaded onto a trailer to be transported to PJ police headquarters “for official investigation”, which did not take place until a full 24-hours later.

Tabloid Correio da Manhã had been reporting Palma’s mysterious disappearance for days.

The story was tinged with darkness from the outset, as Palma’s sister Rosário alluded to a final Facebook post from her brother involving a 10-second video with no picture.

Rosário told reporters she feared the worst.

As other papers ‘came on board’ – particularly after the discovery of Palma’s body – there was even talk of his death being connected with the security services.

Cascais24 claimed that although everything indicated this was a bizarre situation of suicide, PJ police believed certain “strange circumstances” needed investigation.

These circumstances were said to be waiting on the the results of an autopsy, which revealed last Friday that Palma died from “alcoholic intoxication”.

Further tests have been requested, while the photojournalist’s body was released for burial which went ahead the next day.

No further talk of security service involvement or “strange circumstances” has since been reported, and for all intents and purposes, this story would appear to have run its course.

The tragedy for friends and family is that there has been no definitive answer as to how long Palma survived, albeit in an alcoholic coma, in the boot.

The autopsy suggested he died four days after he disappeared. Rosário has gone on television to say she believes he was alive when the car was towed to the PJ headquarters.

Another cause for frustration is that friend Francisco Adão claims he could have told authorities the photographer was in the boot, if he had been allowed to approach the car when it was first located.

This flags another ‘dismal truth’: while CMTV journalists were looking inside the car windows, they did not fully understand what they were looking at.

Adão explains he knew exactly what Palma was wearing, and could have identified the body from fabric visible through the back window.

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Photo: Taken from Pedro Palma’s Facebook page, showing the photographer at an exhibition at Cascais Cultural Centre