by Felícia Cabrita
The Lisbon Court of Appeals overturned the decision that had been taken a year ago by a judge of the Civil Court of Lisbon, which condemned the former Inspector of the Judiciary Police, Gonçalo Amaral, to pay half a million euro to the parents of Madeleine McCann for the book that he wrote about the case.
In 'Maddie, The Truth of the Lie', published in July 2008, Amaral argues that the child died accidentally in the apartment at the Ocean Club resort, in Praia da Luz (Lagos) on the night she disappeared on May 3, 2007 and that her parents concealed the body and disseminated, in order to cloud the facts, the abduction thesis. The Civil Court had ruled that the book caused severe damage to the good name and reputation of Kate and Gerry McCann, who despite being constituted as arguidos in the investigation, saw the suspicions over them being archived.
In the ruling of the 14th, the Lisbon Court of Appeals judges Ferreira de Almeida, Catarina Manso and Alexandrina Branquinho decided to absolve Gonçalo Amaral and revoked the decision of the first instance court.
'Legitimate exercise of the right of opinion'
In the decision, the judges begin by considering that the book is nothing more than a "legitimate exercise of the right of opinion", being its content very clear: "The thesis that the minor died accidentally and that fact was concealed by the parents", which appears in the PJ final report and determined their constitution as arguidos. And they add, that it was the parents themselves, by the interviews given at the time, "who voluntarily limited their rights to privacy and to the protection of the intimacy of family life."
Furthermore, the Appeals Court destroys the thesis of the Civil Court that invoked as a reason to condemn Gonçalo Amaral the infringement of the secrecy of duty to which he was bound as a criminal investigation officer. “It would indeed be hard to understand if an officer, what is more a retired one, kept the alluded duties of confidentiality and secrecy of duty, thus becoming restricted in the exercise of his right of opinion as to the interpretation of facts already made public by the judicial authority and widely discussed (by the way, in large measure, by the initiative of the intervenients themselves) on national and international media”, stated the Appellate judges.
The former PJ inspector, who had been ordered to pay 500,000 euro to the McCanns, which in turn, led to the arrest of part of his salary, can now claim the end of the seizure and request for compensation to the couple. Contacted by SOL, Gonçalo Amaral declined to make a comment.
The Appeals Court decision equally overturns the sentences of the other defendants in the case: Guerra e Paz, the book publisher, Valentim de Carvalho and TVI, who produced a documentary and then a DVD based on 'Maddie, The Truth of the Lie'. The Civil Court decision had prohibited the book and the DVD to be sold or republished, in addition the defendants also had to deliver the copies that could still exist in depots or warehouses. Of the 180,000 copies, 170,000 were sold and seven thousand were seized by the McCann.
in SOL newspaper, April 19, 2016
Note* Red book banner reads "There is no axe that can cut the root of Freedom" in a reference to intervention musician Manuel Freire's “Livre” – “Não há machado que corte, a raiz ao pensamento”. See as well Portugal: the Carnation Revolution of 1974.