During the afternoon of the previous day, before the witnesses’ hearings, a friend told us that Dr. António Cabrita, Mr.Gonçalo Amaral's lawyer due to his illness and because his secretary caught the swine flu had to stay at home.
Another friend mentioned that Sandra Felgueiras interview would mention this fact at RTP 1 night news; the spreading of the news in the way that was divulged gave the wrong idea that nothing would happen in the next morning.
However all parts had to attend the session to hear the decision to postpone the hearings. So, the McCanns were going to be there, their lawyer Isabel Duarte, Gonçalo Amaral and the witnesses called by his defence lawyer to give statements on that day. 3 witnesses were called for yesterday’s hearing, two of them appeared.
At the PJGA a decision was made to change how and what we would do according to the last minute news.
The members started arriving at the courthouse from 9:00 am forwards. We took with us 100 red carnations and press kits, like the one available at the site, in two languages, in Portuguese and in English to be distributed among the media, and whomever else that could be interested in reading our manifesto.
We were about 11 people in total from the PJGA, there were also a few populars that were attending the event. No one was there to support the McCanns.
When we got there, at one of the entrances of Palácio da Justiça, photo journalists and cameramen surrounded the members to shoot what we were talking and doing, like taking out of the bags (the forbidden book, the red carnations and the media kits). We also dressed T-shirts that stated on the front: “Liberdade de Expressão” and the PJGA site link – www.pjga.blogspot.com, and on the back “Censura Nunca Mais” – “Freedom of Expression” and “Censorship Never Again”.
Mr.Gonçalo Amaral and the McCann couple were already inside the Courthouse. Meanwhile, outside there were several journalists, mainly from Portugal and from the UK. A few familiar faces from the UK media were there, from Martin Brunt to Keir Simmons, and a few others that have been following the McCanns case since Praia da Luz.
The atmosphere outside was of excitement, the journalists were frenetic, some were circling around the huge Courthouse building to see if the McCanns didn’t attempt to escape from the back doors, others were calling the editors, others preparing the satellite connections. Every time that a false hint that someone was coming out of the court room was made, the journalists gathered like vultures at the entrance door in a semi-circle, all on the top of each others, squeezing for a better space.
Our PJGA representative, Dr. Luís Arriaga, was giving several interviews to the media at that time. We, the rest of the members, were distributing the press kits and carnations, and talking about our views quietly with journalists from both countries.
Some press members came out from the court session, and a few minutes later so did Mr. Gonçalo Amaral, immediately the half-circle of journalists surrounded Gonçalo Amaral. Generally, because of the sheer amount of journalists one or two are appointed to make the questions, one of the questions was made by Sandra Felgueiras, she asked if: “Do you think the McCanns now have the sensation that you made everything for this trial to be postponed knowing that they were coming to Portugal?” to which Gonçalo answered that he was not the creator of the influenza virus, and that was not something the McCanns could pin on him.
On the half circle, while Mr Amaral answered the journalist’s questions there was an English journalist named Kier Simmons who was constantly and rudely interrupting Mr. Amaral, he said multiple times, “Why don’t you speak in English for our viewers? Can’t you give us an answer in English?” – the blatant imperialistic rudeness of that man, was amazing. I caught him up later and told him that he was very bad-mannered not for interrupting, but for demanding that Mr Amaral, a Portuguese man in Portugal spoke in English – a language that Mr. Amaral does not speak nor does he have the obligation to speak. Obviously, Kier did not know one word of Portuguese.
Moving on. Like a pack of wolves, the British journalists followed Gonçalo Amaral until he entered his car and left.
At the courthouse door, where the McCanns were supposed to appear, was Salvador da Cunha, the CEO of Lift Image Consulting, the new McCann’s PR man in Portugal.
According to what was leaked by a source Lift Consulting was the company that was hired to wash Fátima Felgueiras [Sandra’ mum] image, when she runned away from the Portuguese Justice to Brazil.
The McCanns are paying this firm with the Find Madeleine McCann Fund. According to a source the firm allegedly has two strategies to follow: one, to wash the McCanns image in Portugal and two, to attack Gonçalo Amaral using every possible means.
Like prima donnas, we had to wait for the McCanns to feel comfortable enough to get out, Mr. Salvador da Cunha, vociferated to the journalists to move two steps backwards otherwise the McCanns would leave from another door.
A member of the PJGA attempted to give this ‘gentleman’ two carnations in the name of freedom of expression only to be welcomed by a sentence, spitted with hatred between his teeth; “No, I don’t want it. What you’re doing is not defending the freedom of expression, but the freedom of distortion”- he also accused the PJGA members of being paid to support Gonçalo Amaral and a few other things that we caught on film but are too offensive to publish. [view the video here]
The McCanns came outside and answered 2 or 3 questions made by the journalists, one of them made by Sandra Felgueiras, who funnily enough made one of the most biased news piece for TV – we could think she was hired by UK’s Mirror or Sun's newspaper. But this is another matter that I’ll leave for later.
What was interesting to notice in their pre-prepared script was the new vocabulary, something that most will instantly recognize has being taken shamelessly from the PJGA’s Manifesto and Public Petitions. The McCanns, for the first time in two years, used the words: Justice, Freedom of Expression and Truth.
The McCanns, after the short media statement runned to a black expensive car with a hired driver, followed by journalists and a Portuguese lady that went there to support Mr. Amaral on her own. A member of the PJGA was able to approach Gerry McCann and offer him a bunch of Red Carnations as a sign of our fight for freedom of expression; another supporter gave a red carnation to Kate.
The McCanns went to Praia da Luz, with a few English journalists, in what could be their last time in Portugal. They rented an apartment in the Algarve, away from Praia da Luz and the population, and supposedly, they are going to stay there for the weekend.
The book “The English Gag – The Story of a Forbidden Book” by Gonçalo Amaral was launched at the LX Factory- Ler Devagar in the afternoon. Only one question remains, what on earth was Isabel Duarte doing there?