by Catalina Pestana
In times of great promiscuity between the modern State’s powers – legislative, executive and judicial -, once more in Portugal the notion of common sense has been lost in an unbridled way, and the cloak of Justice has been thrown over it.
The book ‘Maddie – The Truth of the Lie’, by Gonçalo Amaral, the former PJ inspector who coordinated the ‘Maddie case’ investigation, was removed from the market by a court order, under the pretext of being a crime of defamation against the McCanns.
The author’s assets have been ‘frozen’ in order to cover an eventual compensation to the ‘offended ones’.
Last Friday, Gonçalo’s witnesses were to be heard. For the first time, we were going to hear other PJ agents who investigated Maddie’s disappearance with him. They – according to news reports – were going to testify that their colleague had only written down what was in the archived process, which was no longer covered by judicial secrecy.
Reading the book, I had a sense of déjà-vu. One way or another, the reported facts had already reached public opinion through various forms of communication.
During the ‘Estado Novo’ [dictatorial period in Portugal], it was usual for the State to seize assets – books, records and other items – that belonged to those who disagreed with the epoch’s political practises and dared to write it or to say it out loud.
It was more logical: an authoritarian State that seeks to silence its opposition, regardless of means.
Now, who are the McCanns (or what do the McCanns know, that someone does not want them to reveal) for some elementary questions that are made by the common citizen, to remain unanswered?
1 – Why was it that on the night of the 3rd of May 2007, when the little English girl went missing – remember that she was left asleep, alone with her two younger siblings, while her parents dined with their friends -, the McCanns, already in the company of the PJ, felt the need to be also accompanied by the English television channels, that arrived the very next morning?
2 – Why was it that they, supposedly feeling ravaged by the greatest sorrow that can possibly hit a mother and father, yet supported by the authorities and the population of their own country and of the country where the facts took place, immediately nominated a couple of grotesque figures that are called press advisors or spokespeople?
3 – Why did British prime minister Gordon Brown, not satisfied with the perfectly correct gesture of contacting the Portuguese authorities, asking them to give the case special attention, offer his Government spokesman to take over that function with the McCann couple?
4 – Why have the Portuguese missing children’s processes never earned from the authorities one hundredth of the investment in human and material resources to track them down?
5 – Why do the members of the Portuguese Parliament have a regimental figure called ‘defence of the bench’s honour’ at their disposal, while a high-ranking criminal investigation police officer has to request early retirement to defend his honour, and ends up being criminalised for that gesture?
6 – Why do we continue to have two models of Justice in Portugal, one for the powerful from anywhere in the world, and another one for common citizens?
Last Friday, Gonçalo Amaral’s lawyer became ill and the hearing of his witnesses was adjourned. The McCanns, curiously, returned to Portugal on that day. In the late afternoon, Gonçalo Amaral presented another book: ‘The English Gag – The Story of a Forbidden Book’.
In the provoking way of those who think they own God, the McCanns’ illustrious lawyer, who spent many years defending freedom of opinion in a weekly newspaper [Expresso], decided to participate. She took with her a group of English journalists that follow this family’s every step and decided to participate in the book presentation, staging a press conference for Her Majesty’s subjects. The circus goes on.
I do not know Gonçalo Amaral personally, just like I didn’t know Murat, the first arguido that was invented to soothe the spirits.
This story certainly has many chapters left to tell.
source: Sol, 18.12.2009, paper edition