In a court ruling that has left many in states of total disbelief, former PJ detective Gonçalo Amaral has been ordered to pay €500,000 in damages to the parents of Madeleine McCann.
The long-running civil case for defamation centring on Amaral’s book ‘The Truth of the Lie’ has finally “come to an end”, Sky News reported on Tuesday. But whether this is an end, or simply yet another lurch in the tortuous proceedings, remains to be seen.
“Mr Amaral, who led the (original) police search for the girl, can appeal the court’s ruling”, Sky concludes.
It is a verdict that has set social media alight, with comments ranging from “I love Gonçalo Amaral” to more constructive pointers on how people can donate to his legal fund.
While many are asking “how could this have happened?”, Portuguese are suggesting it “an outrageous sum” for a country where people generally don’t have that kind of money.
Added to the libel ‘win’, Amaral is understood to be facing legal charges of another €106,000.
“The court court also prohibited any more sales of the books and gave the publisher (Guerra e Paz) 60 days to return all existing copies”, Sky continued, adding that the makers of the TV documentary based on the book are now prohibited from selling any more copies of their film.
It is a far cry from the news published both in Portugal and UK in January hinting that Judge Emília Melo e Castro’s “reading of the proven facts” suggested that an outright court win for the McCanns was “unlikely”.
British tabloid The Daily Express ran (belatedly) with the headline “Exclusive: McCanns will lose £1 million libel trial”.
Key points in the McCanns’ case were listed as “not proven”.
Even Amaral agreed he was cautiously optimistic.
But then came the long wait for the final verdict, and finally Tuesday’s bombshell that despite all the McCanns’ claims “not proved”, Amaral was considered to have “caused harm” to Madeleine’s parents to the extent that both are due compensation of €250,000.
Even more baffling is the fact that his book has once again been “banned”. A ban was overturned in October 2010 by Lisbon’s appeal court and though the McCann couple appealed, their appeal was overruled by the Supreme Court of Justice in 2011.
It cannot be without irony that Tuesday’s announcement has been timed to coincide almost to the day with the 8th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance from a rental apartment in Praia da Luz.
Contacted for his thoughts on the ruling, Amaral told the Resident: “We are in the face of a mere battle in a war that is far from over.”
By NATASHA DONN