By CHRIS GRAEME
Former police chief Gonçalo Amaral, who headed the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007, has again mentioned the possibility of suing Kate and Gerry McCann for defamation of character.
Gonçalo Amaral was speaking on Friday to rapturous applause at the launch of his latest book A Mordiça Inglesa (‘The English Gag’) in Lisbon’s Ler Devagar book shop.
At the same time, Kate and Gerry McCann, who had appeared for an adjournment at a Lisbon court on Friday morning, returned the same afternoon to the Praia da Luz resort in the Algarve.
It was the first time that Kate McCann has returned to the Algarve, where it was understood they visited the Ocean Club holiday apartment complex, from where their daughter Madeleine disappeared in 2007, and the local church.
Earlier in the day they insisted that the adjournment of a hearing at a Lisbon courthouse to permanently ban a book which they say is “fabrication, lies and slander” has not proved “a disappointment”.
The hearing was postponed for a month because author Gonçalo Amaral’s lawyer has been quarantined with the A (H1N1) virus or Swine Flu.
The McCanns flew into Lisbon late on Thursday evening to attend the first day of a scheduled three-day hearing at Lisbon’s city centre Palace of Justice Civil Court (Pálacio da Justiça Tribunal Cível de Lisboa).
When they arrived at Portela Airport the McCanns made it clear in a statement that they were “not (in Lisbon) to meet Mr Amaral”.
“We are here to make sure that Freedom of Speech doesn’t allow you to distort the truth. We believe it has damaged the search. If people believe that Madeleine is dead then it’s damaged,” said Gerry McCann.
When asked about how he felt about meeting Gonçalo Amaral again, he said: “I haven’t thought about it. We are here for the trial. We’re not here to meet Mr. Amaral,” he said. He added: “We believe that the law will do justice.”
It was the second time that Kate McCann had returned to Portugal since leaving the Algarve over a year ago. The first time was to meet with lawyers and advisors in Lisbon in October.
“Freedom of Speech does not mean spreading fabrications, lies and slander,” she said outside the courthouse.
The couple entered the court building on Friday via a side entrance shortly after 9am, avoiding the pack of photographers and television crews waiting outside the main entrance.
Gonçalo Amaral, the author of the contested book, Maddie – The Truth of the Lie (Maddie – A Verdade da Mentira), arrived at the court building’s main entrance at 9.20am and made brief declarations to the press that “Portugal is a country with freedom of expression”.
Mr. Amaral’s book challenges the McCanns’ version of what happened to Madeleine on the night of May 3, 2007 at a Praia da Luz holiday complex in the Algarve.
Because of libel laws in both the United Kingdom and Portugal, the Algarve Resident cannot repeat any of the suggestions made in that book.
The McCanns succeeded in being awarded a temporary injunction on the sale of the book in September.
Kate and Gerry McCann are seeking a permanent publication ban on the book and around one million pounds (1.2 million euros) in damages, which they say would help them continue the search for their missing daughter.
At the launch of his new book later on Friday the former inspector, who was removed from the case after a 15 month investigation, repeatedly dodged questions about what was actually “new” in his sequel to Maddie – A Verdade de Mentira (Maddie – the Truth of the Lie’ which is subject to a temporary court injunction which prohibits its sale in Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and other countries.
The new book essentially recounts what the former Policia Judiciaria inspector calls “persecution by the McCanns and the British justice system” against the publication of the original book into the case.
Luís Arriaga, spokesman for the Gonçalo Amaral Justice Project (Projecto Justiça Gonçalo Amaral), told the Algarve Resident that freedom of expression “seemed to be increasingly available to the rich and powerful that could afford top legal representation and called for a fairer legal justice system that defended freedom of expression and rights of all”.
The group, whose supporters on Friday sported T-shirts with the slogans “No More Censorship” and “Freedom of Expression” has already raised 3,000 euros to help Gonçalo Amaral towards paying the legal fees in the lawsuit brought by the McCanns to ban the book but admitted that the sum was “clearly insufficient to fight the expected libel cases which could follow.
“We hope to gain the financial support of people who could help with the setting up of a fund,” he said.
During the book launch, Gonçalo Amaral called the book’s banning “strangulation of the first degree” and said it was important to “mobilise public opinion to the need to recover the spirit of Freedom of Expression that had come with Portugal’s April 25th Revolution.”
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