by Rute Coelho
Life’s irony: Gonçalo Amaral, who in court helped to condemn Joana’s mother over her daughter’s death, is going to train, from January onwards, at the Portimão office of João Grade dos Santos, Leonor Cipriano’s first lawyer.
On the other hand, João Grade stopped defending Leonor – who exchanged him for lawyer Marcos Aragão Correia – on the eve of the trial of the five PJ inspectors and former inspectors that stood accused by the Public Ministry of torture over Joana’s mother.
“Since the first moment of the Joana case, I never forgot that I was merely a lawyer playing my role, and Amaral was a policeman”, João Grade dos Santos told 24horas.
“Gonçalo contacted me to become his patron during the training, which is due to start in January. Given the fact that he resides in Portimão and I have an office there, I think he chose me for a practical reason”, he explains. “That would be the reason, otherwise he would have proposed to practise at the office of his lawyer, António Cabrita [head of the Faro District division of the Lawyer’s Order], with whom he has an excellent relationship”, the lawyer explains.
It’s been months since João Grade dos Santos and Gonçalo Amaral started regular contact. “We speak very often”, the patron says about the retired inspector. João Grade even believes that the former inspector who led the Joana case investigation “may have been the victim of an injustice in the process over torture against Leonor Cipriano”.
Gonçalo Amaral ended up being condemned, on the 22nd of May this year, to a penalty of one year and six months in prison, suspended for a similar period, over the crime of false deposition. He was acquitted of the crime of omission of denunciation. The former coordinator in the Joana case investigation has appealed the sentence.
“He knows more than a 20-year-old trainee”
According to the Laywers’ Order’s rules, the training starts at the Lawyers’ Order itself, for six months, and only then can the candidate start his practical experience at a lawyers’ office. It is always the candidate who must find a patron. The full training period lasts almost three years. Then, one still has to pass the Order’s exams to be accepted as a lawyer.
João Grade dos Santos believes in his new trainee’s abilities. “My instinct tells me that Gonçalo is going to be very good. He has a refined smell and a brilliant career at the Polícia Judiciária: he become a coordinator during the time when inspectors were still called agents”, he praises, considering that “with his experience, he already knows a lot more than a trainee in his early twenties”.
Criminal investigation gives experience. “I have no doubts that he will be very good in the penal law area”, he says. As for other areas, like civil or family law, the future “master” of pupil Amaral bets on the student’s ability to learn: “I will explain to him how a process works. He won’t know how to carry out a divorce or an evacuation action at the first attempt, but I believe he will learn quickly”. The patron and the trainee are from the same generation. João Grade dos Santos is aged 51, Amaral is 50.
He even gave him the book
Gonçalo Amaral offered his patron a copy of his book about the Maddie case, “The truth about the lie”. “I read his book and I was convinced, as I had been before, anyway, that it was not an abduction. But the book does not defame the McCanns, Gonçalo Amaral does not express his opinion in it, but an investigation thesis”, says João Grade. Long before they became friends, the lawyer refused to cooperate with Spanish detective agency Método 3, which, according to a special programme on SIC on the 12th of February, wanted to count on his help in the investigation due to the Amaral factor, which was common to the Maddie and Joana cases. Grade refused. Método 3 contacted Marcos Aragão Correia, who accepted.
source: 24Horas, 23.11.2009