THE MOTHER and uncle of Joana Cipriano, the eight-year-old who disappeared from her home in Figueira, Portimão, just over a year ago, will be tried for her murder next month.
Leonor and João Cipriano are accused of “qualified homicide” and of hiding the body of the little girl, which has never been found. Each defendant could receive up to 25 years in jail, the maximum allowed under Portuguese law. Many of the facts surrounding the case remain obscure and embroiled in speculation. The prosecution is advancing on the basis of circumstantial evidence gleaned from the site of the alleged crime, the house where Joanna lived with her mother and stepfather.
According to the prosecution, Joana was beaten to death by the defendants after she had caught them in an incestuous sexual act and threatened to tell her stepfather. It is further alleged that Joana’s body was then cut into pieces by the defendants, placed into plastic bags and stored in a freezer in the house, before later being disposed of. Still, after over a year of searching, police have failed to find any trace of Joana’s body.