McCanns “day in court” collapses in disarray

McCanns “day in court” collapses in disarray

It was meant to be their “day in court”, according to the BBC, but Kate and Gerry McCann – pursuing a long-running civil action for defamation against the former detective who led the original hunt for their missing daughter – were out of luck.
Half an hour before they turned up to testify at Lisbon’s 1º Vara do Tribunal Cível, the man they are demanding €1.2 million in damages from slipped in unnoticed and presented a document revoking the mandate of his lawyer.
Gonçalo Amaral is playing his cards characteristically close to his chest – not even talking to the press about his motivation for sacking lawyer Vítor Santos Oliveira.
This was the fourth time the case opened in 2009 has been stopped in its tracks, but only the first time the cause has come directly from Amaral.
Previously, hearings were adjourned due to illness of Santos’ son, a break-in at the judge’s home and a legal technicality.
Nonetheless, the McCanns expressed their “utter frustration” on the steps of the court, calling the latest hitch a “blatant and cynical attempt” to wear them down.
Kate McCann said: “Every time we come here, we have to make arrangements for our children to be looked after.
“Every time he postpones the case like this, it brings us more pain and distress.”
Quizzed over whether she had any sympathy for Amaral’s personal plight – he has had his bank accounts frozen since the McCanns opened their civil case against him – Mrs McCann said: “Mr Amaral is not the victim in this.”
The hearing has now been adjourned until July 8, with closing arguments scheduled for July 10.
Sky News reporter Robert Nesbitt explained that despite this week’s delay, the judge’s final decision was always expected to take “a few weeks”.
Now, due to the statutory legal holiday in August, it is unlikely that her decision will come before September.
The case hinges on the McCanns’ contention that Dr Amaral’s book, ‘Maddie: The Truth of the Lie’, defames them.
As many are already aware, the book centres on Amaral’s theory that Madeleine died in apartment 5a on that fateful family holiday in Praia da Luz seven years ago, and her body was disposed of.
The McCanns vehemently deny this, and say the theory has caused them pain and distress. They also claim it has hampered the search for Madeleine, which has to date cost millions of euros and involved the police forces of two countries.
It has undoubtedly been the most high-profile missing person’s case of all time, with stories relating to possible suspects constantly appearing in the media.
A massive eight-day ground search coordinated by the Metropolitan police in Praia da Luz earlier this month is reported to have cost an estimated £50,000 a day despite having found “no significant clues” as to what happened to the three year old.
British police are now understood to be keen to interview eight people of interest, including three suspected drug dealers. PJ police are understood to be considering whether to give the official go ahead to these interviews.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]