by Rui Pando Gomes
The expression on the jurors’ faces changed as soon as Leonor Cipriano started contradicting herself, during the trial of the five Polícia Judiciária inspectors that stand accused of assaulting her.
She started out by saying that she had seen “who assaulted” her but then denied it “because there was a plastic bag over my head”. A bag that she asserted before the judges and jurors was “plastic and blue”. But moments later she stated it was “green or blue”.
But the contradictions continued. During the inquiry, Leonor said that she had been “assaulted more than once” and yesterday stated that it had been “only once”. She said that she was beaten between 6 and 8 p.m., because she had seen the time on the clock inside the room, but yesterday described the room without said clock.
She enumerated the alleged aggressions that she suffered in order to confess to the death of her daughter, on the 14th of October 2004, but forgot that she had already confessed all these facts to the PJ one day earlier, in the presence of her then lawyer, Célia Costa. “I never had a female lawyer. I don’t remember having confessed”, she told the court.
The memory failures continued – the only thing that was described with precision was the aggressions that she says she suffered. She asserted that the doctor at the prison in Odemira observed her the day after the assault – but in the Public Ministry’s accusation, the medical report is dated the 18th, three days later. The same lack of certainties happened concerning the date when the photographs were taken. Leonor says that they were taken “on the following day”, but the process refers that they were taken days later. And the defense recalls that the images can be “manipulated”.
Telephone book – Leonor says that she was beaten with a phone book while she had a bag over her head. She stated to the court that at that point in time “she couldn’t see anything”.
Room light at night – The room where the photographs were taken at the prison was “bright and with light”, according to Joana’s mother – but everything happened at night. Therefore, according to the witness, they were taken after the employees’ normal working hours.
Without explanation for bruises on her body
A set of photographs that were sent by Odemira prison and that were included in the process don’t match those that were used to write the forensics report on the hematomas. In some of the images Leonor presents hematomas in her face, but on others those bruises are not visible. When she was confronted with those images, Joana’s mother was not able to explain which ones were real. She asserted the court that “photographs were taken only once”, always “inside the prison” by two employees. The colour of the bra was also questioned, given the fact that Leonor stated she only wears white or black underwear.
Leonor Cipriano’s lawyer is going to ask for Alípio Ribeiro to testify in the process, so the former PJ national director can explain the exit of Gonçalo Amaral from the institution. At the end of the session, Aragão Correia launched serious accusations against the former PJ coordinator, connecting the cases of Joana and Madeleine. “The British police has carried out a private investigation on Gonçalo Amaral and has detected several crimes.”
Amaral says that Leandro is guilty
Gonçalo Amaral was the protagonist of the key moment yesterday when he pointed at Joana’s stepfather as someone who was involved in the child’s disappearance. ”He’s the one who should be on trial”, he referred, while pointing at Leandro, who is a witness in the process.
As far as CM was able to establish, the accusations are related to a process of rape upon Joana, in which Leandro was a suspect and which was investigated after the mother was accused of homicide.
At that time, sperm was found in little Joana’s underpants, which was an almost full match with Leandro’s DNA. The collection of sperm was requested, but Leandro refused.
Leandro interprets Amaral’s accusation because he is “desperate and anguished because he knows that he’s guilty”.
Defense wants to show series of statements
During the audience, António Pragal Colaço, the defense lawyer for four out of the five arguidos, showed a lengthy document which he stated included “a series of contradictions” that Leonor made throughout the investigation.
As an example, Pragal Colaço referred to a situation when Leonor said she had been beaten with a cardboard tube, at the same time when she stated that she had a bag over her head and couldn’t see anything.
At the end of the trial’s first session, the lawyer excused himself from making a statement to the media. “I don’t want to talk”, he said. Nevertheless, CM knows that the document that was exhibited by António Pragal Colaço in court has not been appended to the process yet and the lawyer will only present it over the coming days.
António Cabrita, Gonçalo Amaral’s defense lawyer, questioned the reason why the doctor at the Health Centre in Odemira failed to denounce the aggressions that Leonor denounced when she was examined. António Cabrita asked if the doctor should not be accused of omission to denounce, just like his client.
Many members of the public watching
Throughout the day, the main room at the Court in Faro was literally overfilling and there wasn’t enough space for the numerous members of the public that wanted to watch the trial. At the door, many persons waited for someone to leave in order to obtain a place. Contrary to what was requested by Leonor’s lawyer, there was no metal detector control, but Leonor was constantly surrounded by prison guards. The trial proceeds on Wednesday morning.
Accusation: Different crimes – Inspectors Leonel Lopes, Pereira Cristóvão and Marques Bom stand accused of torture. Nunes Cardoso, of forgery of a document; Gonçalo Amaral, of false testimony and of failure to denounce.
Condemned: Her daughter’s death – Leonor is presently fulfilling a 16-year prison sentence over the death of her daughter and the concealment of her cadaver. The case was appealed until the Supreme Court, which confirmed the sentence.
Order: Normal lapses – Rodrigo Santiago, one of the most renowned lawyers in the country, is the assistant who represents the Order. Concerning the contradictions, he says that “they are natural because [Leonor] has been imprisoned for several years”.
source: Correio da Manhã, 28.10.2008