"(3:04) Carlos Pinto de Abreu: “So much is said about the Joana case. The Joana case led Dr António Marinho Pinto to put a few photos in Expresso [newspaper]. But he did nothing more. Except now, a long time after, to nominate a lawyer to be an assistant in the Order’s name. This means that he doesn’t trust the lawyers who have been assigned – because there have been lawyers assigned, on behalf of the victims and on behalf of the arguidos, and so he didn’t trust those lawyers. He didn’t even trust lawyers in the Algarve. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t present any kind of solution. Contrary to what Dr Marinho Pinto did, which was to publish a photo in the Expresso newspaper, I, for example, wrote a letter to the Attorney General, asking for no criminal police force to investigate that case, precisely to prevent that the Polícia Judiciária, the GNR or the PSP would investigate it, but rather the Public Ministry’s magistrates themselves. These are concrete solutions. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t propose, in legislative terms, any change to the Penal Process Code to prevent this from happening, either. Apart from filing a complaint with the Public Ministry’s Superior Counsel and another one with the Magistrates’ Superior Counsel, concerning this matter, and I did that nominally, I have also proposed to the committee for the penal reform, and this was accepted, that all interrogations of arguidos have to be made in the presence of their lawyer.
(4:55) António Marinho Pinto: May I just say the following. When you say ‘put a few photos in Expresso’, what I did, as a journalist, which I was at that time, and worked for Expresso, I made a report about a case of torture at a criminal police force. And it took me, and I wish to publicly congratulate Expresso, because the work that I did, took four months. Four months. I went to the Algarve and to Odemira four times. I spoke with people at the prisons, I spoke with medics, I spoke with lawyers, I spoke with countless people, until I discovered the piece of evidence which were the photographs that I knew existed. And I published the article in Expresso. It was that, more than 30 thousand letters one could write, secretly, to the entities, it was that which made justice move forward. That was what made justice move."
Taking advantage of this introduction, I propose a closer look at the early days of the so-called ‘Leonor Cipriano case’, which is largely a separate story from the ‘Joana case’.
On the 12th of September 2004, Joana Cipriano Guerreiro, aged 8, disappears from the village of Figueira, near Portimão. The disappearance takes place at around 8.30 p.m., after the girl left her home to buy milk and canned tuna. For days, her mother, Leonor Cipriano, makes appeals on television, stating that her daughter was abducted.
On the 21st of September, Leonor Cipriano is taken away for questioning by the PJ of Portimão. It is already suspected that Joana was murdered. Then, on the 25th of September, Leonor Cipriano is placed under preventive custody at the prison of Odemira, under special security measures, after confessing to the accidental death and concealment of Joana’s cadaver. Two days later, the Court orders preventive custody for her brother João Cipriano, co-author of the crime.
On Monday, the 27th of September, Leonor Cipriano accuses the PJ inspectors of physically assaulting her to force her to confess to the crime. After simulating intense abdominal pain, while under questioning at the PJ in Faro, and screaming that she was hit in the belly to force her to confess, the inspectors take her to Faro Hospital, where her entry is registered at 8.25 p.m. At the hospital, the spots of blood that Leonor had left on a chair at the PJ, and which she stated were the result of physical aggression by police officers, were unmasked as menstrual bleeding.
During the night of the 14th to the 15th of October, Leonor is questioned overnight, at the PJ building in Faro. No lawyer is present, allegedly because this is an ‘informal questioning’, according to the police officers. In the early morning of October 15, she is taken by the PJ agents themselves to the Health Centre in Odemira, with bruises on her face and body.
On the 7th of January 2005, the Public Ministry opens an inquiry to investigate the alleged aggressions from PJ agents against Leonor Cipriano.
On the 26th of February, weekly newspaper Expresso publishes an article titled ‘Questions without answer’, by journalist António Marinho Pinto, presently the head of the Portuguese Lawyers’ Order. On the front page of the newspaper, the photograph of Leonor’s face, covered with bruises. On the same day, Santos Cabral, then National Director of the Polícia Judiciária, states, in a press release, that it was exclusively through an initiative of the PJ itself that the investigations into the alleged aggressions against Leonor Cipriano were jumpstarted.
Dr Marinho Pinto may well claim that he is the centre of the Universe; it remains a fact that the investigation into the alleged torture was not started by him, as it was well under way when he published his article in Expresso.
On the other hand, it remains unexplained, to this day, how the photographs came into his possession. By making the Lawyers' Order an assistant in the case of Leonor Cipriano - a move that was, and still is, subject to much criticism among lawyers - Dr Marinho Pinto rendered it impossible for him to be summoned onto the witness stand.
Coincidence - or coincidental facts?
Pros & Contras, RTP, 01.06.2009
Diário de Notícias, 04.09.2007 - "A historic process for the Polícia Judiciária"
Diário de Notícias, 27.02.2005 - "Joana's mother may be freed in March"
Correio da Manhã, 30.09.2004 - "Leonor alleged that she was aggressed by the PJ"
Correio da Manhã, 26.09.2004 - "Mother confesses to daughter's accidental death"
Correio da Manhã, 02.04.2005 - "PJ agents against Leonor"