Gonçalo Amaral never hid the doubts about the McCanns’ conduct. Elected to be their ‘international enemy’, he is now subject to legal persecution, forbidden from opening his mouth, with the book suspended and the assets seized.
Amaral could be a disciple of famous Inspector Columbo, the 70s television series’ star. Played by actor Peter Falk, Columbo was a detective with a neglected look, although methodical and with an almost obsessive dedication to the cases that he investigated.
Of course, the former Portimão PJ coordinator wears better looking suits, but he displays a vaguely distracted expression that conceals the same astuteness and attention to detail that were Columbo’s trademark.
In two and a half years, almost everything changed in the life of Gonçalo Amaral: he became disgraced at the PJ, he was grinded by the English media machine, persecuted and sued by the McCanns who demand a compensation of 1.2 million euros from him.
The reason for so many hassles is widely known: Amaral does not believe the English couple, he doubts the story that they tell about their daughter’s disappearance. And, understandably, the McCanns do not forgive him for that mistrust.
The Maddie process entered his life like a hurricane, swept his sleep away and now threatens to compromise his patrimony. It is the price to pay for having become the ‘thorn in the side’ of the McCanns. After managing, in September, to obtain approval for an injunction that suspended the sale of the book “The truth of the lie”, which reproduces aspects of the official investigation that was carried out by the PJ of Portimão, they equally managed to convince the civil court to advance towards seizing the former inspector’s personal assets.
The siege has closed in so tightly that the court went as far as determining that Amaral cannot speak about the book in Portugal, or in any other country in the world.
For now, the target was a firm that the former policeman uses to receive the money that is generated by author’s rights. Furthermore, there is the brutal compensation that is claimed by the English through the law firm that represents their interests in Portugal.
Apart from the legal threats, that are now starting to materialise as lawsuits, it seems evident that Amaral’s steps are under tight scrutiny. As recently as this week, the McCanns’ lawyers managed to prevent a French television channel from broadcasting the documentary about the ‘Maddie case’ that was produced by Valentim de Carvalho, as well as an interview with Gonçalo Amaral.
The argument was precisely the Lisbon Civil Court’s injunction.
Amaral bought himself the ‘war’ of a lifetime, by becoming involved, professionally at first, then from a personal point of view, with the searches to find the little girl that went missing on the 3rd of May 2007, while spending a holiday in Praia da Luz, Portimão. And it could have been no other way. Amaral was in a command post at the PJ, and his curriculum was filled with solved cases. This was just another one.
But it had a special component: it involved a couple of doctors with political connections in England. That condition almost always crossed paths with the police investigation’s data. The arrival of the English dogs in Portugal operates a turnaround in the process, opening new hypotheses to explain Madeleine’s disappearance. Amaral, who headed the investigation, became the target to shoot.
Pressures at the highest political level, at a time when the Portuguese Government needed to approve the Lisbon Treaty, counsel extreme caution in the relationship with the English.
What is for sure is that Amaral is removed from the investigation and the process ends up being archived. Singed by the events, as he leaves the PJ under circumstances that are publicly unfavourable for his image, the former coordinator embraces the case in his new civil life, insisting on the thesis that the police had followed but the court had not validated.
“The premature end to his career, did not only remove him from the case, but it also emphasized a certain obsession in trying to solve it, and that implied colliding with the McCanns head on, with the results that are known”, an investigator who knows Gonçalo Amaral tells “O Crime”.
Another investigator mentions: “I have no doubts that he is, at present, the McCanns’ strategy’s main target. They want to shut him up, fit him into a legal straight jacket. The amount of the lawsuit, 1.2 million, is a sign of that intention. Does anyone think, starting with the McCanns, that he owns assets in that amount, or anything near it?”.
source: O Crime, 29.10.2009, paper edition only