Gonçalo Amaral, a former Polícia Judiciária inspector, has become known to the public after investigating controversial cases: that of Joana Cipriano first, then that of Madeleine McCann. The balance of this valorous work was devastating for both the inspector’s career and personal life. Now, after retiring early, with several ongoing lawsuits, the former inspector celebrated his 50th birthday. His wife, Sofia Leal, tells our magazine about the last two years.
What changed since Gonçalo Amaral was removed from the Madeleine case?
He is a more present father, unfortunately perhaps, because his career ended prematurely.
Did the outcome of this case, for your husband, catch you by surprise?
At a certain point in time, I suspected that the outcome would be this one.
Did you fear that moment?
We never fear, because we have great faith in God and in our daughters’ future.
Was it a complicated time for the family?
Problems are overcome, just like in any family.
How did your daughters go through this situation?
It was very violent. They lived without their father since May, because he worked in Portimão and we still lived in Faro. Then, on the day that Madeleine disappeared, I started to work in Portimão. They remained with their grandparents, and when they finally came to live in our new home, their father ceased functions in Portimão and had to return to Faro. The girls’ feeling was a bit of abandonment.
Didn’t they understand this change?
Our daughters suffered emotional damages that are latent to this day. Their father’s court attendances were also very violent, because they were used to watching their father sending other people to court. And suddenly, it was their father on the defendant’s bench. Inês is five years old and Rita is 11, it’s very complicated.
Was there a time when the marriage was hurt?
Obviously, any marriage would hurt.
Did you feel you were receiving less attention from him?
Gonçalo’s commitment was always the same, it would never even cross my mind to complain about that. The difficulties in our marriage were basically related to the emotional part.
Do you fear that Gonçalo may be forced to pay the compensation that is being demanded by the McCanns?
I don’t think that is possible, we will appeal until the last instances.
Don’t you fear experiencing financial difficulties?
On the day that my husband left the Polícia Judiciária, he came home with a third of his salary. That was a decision that we made as a family. We were aware of the difficulties that we would experience in the future, and I have always supported him, because principles are more important. That is how we raise our daughters.
How do you seek to explain the ongoing events to your daughters?
The four of us gather when they have doubts and we clarify everything, according to their ages.
Are they approached by colleagues at school?
Yes, they are approached at school, but always in a positive manner and they react very well.
A message for Kate McCann
Sofia Leal has already come forward to defend her husband from Kate McCann’s words.
“I don’t understand, I don’t accept and I don’t even admit that a mother whose daughter has disappeared, treats my husband in that manner, saying that he is a disgrace as a man and as a professional. I do not admit that exactly that person says it, after my husband gave up so much of his family time to search for her daughter.”
“I have a feeling of fulfilled duty”
The former Polícia Judiciária inspector reunited his closest friends to celebrate his 50th birthday. “I’m happy, there are many friends here, others could not come, others are not among us anymore.” On the balance of such a special anniversary, the former policeman says that he has many reasons to celebrate. “I feel accomplished. It is the feeling of fulfilled duty, but there is something more, that I cannot speak about, of justice being carried out and the truth being discovered. These are not wishes, they are principles, I’m not speaking about any specific case”, he adds ironically. We recall that Gonçalo Amaral was forbidden by the Civil Court of Lisbon of making any comments about the book “The Truth about the Lie”.
source: Maria magazine, paper edition only, 10.10.2009