Gonçalo Amaral’s book about the Madeleine McCann case can return into bookshops. The Appeals Court of Lisbon has just agreed with the former Polícia Judiciária coordinator, who has always defended the thesis of the little English girl’s death.
“The contents of the book does not offend any of the fundamental rights of the applicants [the McCann couple and their three children]” and “the exercise of its writing and publication is included in the constitutional rights that are assured to everyone by the European Convention for Human Rights and by the Portuguese Republic’s Constitution”, reads the decision, to which JN [Jornal de Notícias] had access.
In September 2009, after an injunction that was filed by the McCann couple, the Civil Court of Lisbon forbade the sale of the book “The Truth of the Lie” and also the reproduction of a documentary that is based upon the book and was broadcast by TVI.
A decision that earns harsh criticism from the Appeals Court judges. To forbid the former PJ coordinator “of expressing his opinion, by any means (in writing, interview, analysis, commentary), about what he wrote in that book, cuts off one of his rights that is constitutional and universal: that of opinion and of freedom of expression”, the decision mentions.
The three Appeals Court judges that sign the decision furthermore consider that the sentence from the Civil Court of Lisbon violated the Portuguese Republic’s Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.
Apart from watching “The Truth of the Lie” returning to bookshops, Gonçalo Amaral sees his right to freedom of expression returned to himself.
in: Jornal de Notícias, 19.10.2010
Gonçalo Amaral's book can return into bookshops
by Ana Paula Azevedo
The Lisbon Appeals Court has given the former Polícia Judiciaria inspector, Gonçalo Amaral, reason concerning the injunction that had been filed against him by Madeleine McCann’s parents.
In a decision that is dated Thursday last week, the Appeals Court judges have overturned the prohibition that had been decreed by the Lisbon Civil Courts, which forbade the distribution and sales of the book “Maddie – The Truth of the Lie”, as well as interviews and television reports about said book, both in Portugal and abroad.
The McCann couple alleges that Gonçalo Amaral’s book, as well as the interviews that he gave about it, prompt “a serious and hardly reparable damage” to their family, especially to the twins, Sean and Amelie. They invoked damages to the protection of their private and family life and damages to their good name and their image rights.
Yet, to the Appeals Court of Lisbon, “the contents of the book does not offend any of the applicants’ fundamental rights. The exercise of its writing and publication is included in the constitutional rights that are ensured to everyone by the European Convention of Human Rights and by the Portuguese Republic’s Constitution” (concerning freedom of expression and information and freedom of press and the media).
We recall that the investigation into Maddie’s disappearance was coordinated by Gonçalo Amaral and ended up being archived, without any certainties concerning what happened to the three-year-old child. In the book “Maddie – The Truth of the Lie”, the former inspector sustains that Maddie died in the apartment where her parents were spending their holidays, in Praia da Luz, probably due to a domestic accident, on the 3rd of May, 2007 – and then the McCann couple, assisted by their friends who where on holidays with them, concealed the cadaver.
And he alleges that he was forced to write the book in order to defend his reputation and to restore his professional honour, given the fact that at a certain point in time, he was removed from the investigation before its conclusion, through a decision from the Judiciária’s national directory.
The judges at the Appeals Court in Lisbon compared the book with the archiving dispatch from the investigation into Maddie’s disappearance: “We do not find any mention to any facts in the book that are not also in that dispatch.
Where the author (Gonçalo Amaral) differs from the Prosecutors that wrote the dispatch is in the logical, police-work-oriented and investigative interpretation of said facts. In that sense, we stand before the exercise of the right of opinion, namely in a domain in which the author is an expert, as he worked as a criminal investigator for 26 years”.
“Concerning the applicants’ (the McCann couple’s) protection of private life, it is themselves who give multiple interviews and intervene in the media, offering them [the media] information that would otherwise hardly be published” and that “they voluntarily decided to limit their right to the intimacy of private life, in order to pursue higher values like the discovery of their daughter’s whereabouts”.
Nonetheless, in doing so, “they opened the doors for others to give their opinion about the matter, in accordance to what they were saying, but eventually also in contradiction with their directions, yet always within a legitimate and constitutionally consecrated right of opinion and freedom of expression of thought”.
The decision was issued by the Appeals judges Francisco Bruto da Costa, Catarina Arelo Mando and António Valente.
in: Sol, 19.10.2010
The above articles were published on the first post of 'The Day when Freedom of Expression returned to Portugal' series, their original Portuguese versions are available here : McCann Book Ban Lifted - Freedom has returned to Portugal