Madeleine Case: The biggest siege done to the PJ in 60 years
Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, accused of being involved in the eventual maltreatment of Leonor Cipriano, currently serving a sentence of prison for the murder of her eight-year-old daughter Joana, talks about the lack of institutional solidarity, in the case the PJ and Public prosecution service, and "proves" that the case McCann turned in the biggest media siege done to the PJ in the whole his history.
What made you leave the PJ?
The way like sometimes the institutions treat those who give everything of themselves to serve them and to serve society. As in everything in life, when one thinks that he is standing out or uncomfortable in a place, is what one has to do to change of path. It was what I did.
Was it frustrating, when the investigation of the case was in progress, to see that the things were not moving forward and that was not for lack of resources?
The resources were adequate, the persons who were there were the ones that should be. The criminal investigations, like many interlocutors of the justice have already said, it’s not how we see in the TV series CSI. It is rather more difficult. People do not arrive there, and when confronted by three or four expert proofs, tell the truth. It doesn’t work like that. And it’s also because of these situations, that the investigation is appealing, in terms of profession, there are the ups and downs, there are the difficulties. The investigator has to give out everything of himself, always inside of what the legislation allows. And in some form improvising … I do not conceive that we become in automatons. Inside what the law allows I think that the persons have some capacity of improvisation.
The Portuguese respect very much the Judiciary Police (PJ).
Yes. When we see these inquiries of opinion, we see that the PJ is still an institution in which the Portuguese believe and they still view themselves in it, like the pillars of our State of democratic right, being certain that in the last years the name of the PJ has been very much used for many wars that surpass much of what reaches the public. It becomes a tempting institution for many powers, namely for the politicians. It is an institution that as always demanded a will of domination, of knowing what it does, how it does …! The PJ has a long tradition of more than sixty years. Not every result was successful, nor it could be … perhaps in the Botswana the PJ considers all the cases as successful results, but in the civilized countries, where there are guaranteed rights and freedoms, and where the citizens are respected …that doesn’t happen. I had many cases in which my belief was that a determined individual would have done the facts that were in investigation, and the cases ended being shelved, but these are the rules of the game.
Do you think that the failures of the PJ are more widely spread than the successes?
That is true, you know that every day here or over there, this or another case that the PJ is in charge, are scalpelized to the millimetre and sometimes by persons that don’t dominate absolutely nothing about the subject.
The journalists only know what the PJ, (for example) wants …
And not only. The journalists are not inside the PJ but … see the example of Madeleine McCann. We have to be careful in the public analysis of this type of cases, because when a case has a national and international impact like this one had and even now it’s having … one plays in several fronts, namely the information and also in the counter-information. And when the chess game is being played out of the investigative police and out of the Public Prosecution Office, from where it should never have gone out (I had the opportunity for writing that this case needs more police and less politics of whatever nature), the fact is that when this happens we are forced to think about what is the counter-information, and this case had a great deal of that. Obviously for those who are not inside these meanders, they assimilate everything that arrives, either the good or the bad. Then there are those who know, like me, and are trained to filter certain type of things.
In cases so high profiled like the one of Maddie, of Joana … people want to know informations. They want always to know something, even a small detail …
You know that raises another question that I have been thinking very much about, that is to know up to which point the people are really interested in the case Madeline McCann, or if is the social communication (media) itself that makes the people to be so interested because they (media) don’t leave enough space in order for them to think in something else. But see that this excess of information saturated the people in such a way that at this moment the subject turned to something that people don’t want to know anymore. They are saturated.
In these last six or seven months how many children in Portugal will not have been signalled like victims of mistreatment, missing … which for the investigators, as they were not in the first pages, gave them space to breathe …
This case, Maddie, on several angles was the biggest siege done to the PJ in more than sixty years of history. A siege in this sense: during several months there was no space left in order for the investigators to think about another thing except for the kidnapping of a child. Being correct that in face of the absence of elements that could allow with some security to affirm that this was a situation of a kidnapping, so this theory was appreciated as much like any other one. Like the theory of her death inside the apartment since accident, like the theory of the small child that could had gone out from the house being later caught by an individual … all these theories were evaluated. But what it is certain the fact is that one prevailed. And when the PJ "did wake up". Perhaps the ideal moments of investigation were gone. But as you said and well there are Portuguese, Spanish children, hundreds of English children who were never worthy, neither the children nor the parents, the same treatment, journalistic as well, and here also the media has to assume some of their responsibilities! If it is certain that if the media works towards the product that they want to sell, the one which gives them audiences, the one which sells their newspapers, it is also certain that they have a social position and not everything can be translated in terms of audiences and the sale of newspapers. All of us have here our responsibility. That is way there is the Portuguese Association of Missing Children (APCD). So, that they are not really forgotten. There are many English children who had never, for example, the prime minister giving the cell phone number to the parents …
And there are thousands every year that disappear …
Yes they do, and this takes us thinking that then if that happens, they all should be like Madeleine McCann. I am not saying that the level of the attention given to the Maddie must go down to be an equal to others. No! It is others that must rise.
I give you the example of Mari Luz Cortés, in Huelva… disappeared from the first pages of the newspapers.
Is this better for the investigation?
I can say that in case of the Maddie the investigators tried to do so that the photography did not appear. It is a tradition of ours in terms of the investigation. Only when no more hypotheses are available is when the photography of the child is shown. Why?
Because one is certain if the fact of a photography of a child appears publicly to the eyes of a country or of an European continent, though it might allow to detected that child in the street or in the hands of someone, it will probably condemn that child to death. And in these circumstances we will have to ponder and to think if we should or not show the face of that child. It was an option of the parents against indications of what the police said. They wanted to show and spread the fact. But let us think only with common sense. We do not need to be police officers, or investigators. Someone has the child who is most the most well known at planetary level, and does anyone with common sense wait that one or another individual, that has the child in his possession, thinks that he would walk with her in the street? Clearly not! And if one thinks that she is alive does one thinks they have kept her? Obviously not, because nobody would want to be associated to the kidnapping more mediatised ever. What we are saying is that there is almost a tacit condemnation to the death of that child. Because the one who is with her, though it’s not easy to say this, wants to get rid of the bundle that she represents. Against the indications of the Portuguese authorities an option was made to follow a certain path. And the PJ had to adapt to the whole media machine that was set up.
What do you think of the last developments of the case?
You know that in my book « The star of Joana » (on the investigation of the girl who disappeared in Sept. of 2004. Joana Cipriano, eight years. Killed and cut up with corpse's occultation), the first chapter « Before anything else », is about the lack of institutional solidarity which exists in some institutions and in this case in the PJ. And when the national director of PJ (Mr. Alípio Ribeiro) said what he said, perhaps it was far more important to explain if the constitution of those persons as arguidos was done in haste or if there had been haste at the moment in which those persons were appointed arguidos. There are completely different things. As well, because we were in the days before of the coming out a new Code of Penal Process, which was more demanding in terms of the constitutions of arguidos and this was a thing that needed some clearing up. If the problem was the procedure or if it was the persons. But what is a fact that came out later, is that the national director of PJ participated in the prior meetings where the decision was taken of appointing them arguidos, therefore he has some responsibility and might be eventually doing a mea culpa.
And will it be sufficient the « mea culpa »?
Yes, because for those who walk in the field, I think that here we are a little bit like in certain families... We can have our discussions there inside the house, inside doors, but the image that will go out has to be of unity, otherwise we are fragilized, independently of assuming eventual competences or mistakes. If an institution has the trust of most of the persons, and they still view it as one of the most credible institutions, if these people see that the same institutions going into ‘zigzags’, they begin to question … It is certain that our system of justice is crossing a quite troubled phase, to be kind. The visibility that the media gave in the last decade to the judicial operators, since justice was hermetic, perhaps too much, and now, as in everything in this country, we went from ‘eight to the eighty’. Suddenly certain types of vanities were created. Public judgements began to be done, there were insinuations and public threats, many things …
Do you consider that justice sometimes « is played too much in the newspapers » …
I give my case like an example. I knew through a daily newspaper that Mr. João Cipriano (that it is doing 16 years of prison for the death of Joana), after three years and a half of his arrest he remembered saying that I was the torturer leader and that he had been tortured. And I got to know through a newspaper that there is an ongoing process in which I am accused. What do I do? I gave instructions to my lawyers and I ask to be filed a complaint, that was accepted by slander, against that man, besides he did not complain to the Public Ministry (MP), he wrote to the President of the Republic … and further down in terms of institutions. Last week the same newspaper « notified me » because the process was shelved, the one where he was complaining of being tortured. Now, as you can see, when a person knows from a newspaper that a process is running against you, and then no one is rigorously called anywhere to say whatever, and then he knows from the same newspaper that the process was shelved, something is going badly in terms of justice. The name of the person is vilified without any bashfulness. There are things that hurt and our right to indignation has to reach levels that perhaps we never thought of before. I am not saying that the conduct of all the elements of the PJ in the last 60 year was immaculate. It is not certainly. Nobody can expect that the police officer who emerges from an imperfect society can be perfect. It is the same as all the doctors, judges, attorneys. Everyone has good and bad things. When I and a group of persons were accused of having attacked Mrs. Leonor Cipriano ... then the same Mrs. Leonor Cipriano came to say that we did not attack her. She, herself said it, and the MP readapted that to say: “then if you, gentleman, did not beat her, you organized a plan for third persons who, we do not know who they are, to hit the lady at your command”. How we can stand up for ourselves, how is it possible for someone to do a defence against a thought? That puts one question: is it still worthwhile? In my case I decided to turn my back. Neither I nor anyone hit Mrs. Leonor Cipriano. She knows it well.
Does one give more credit to prevaricators than to the PJ?
That is therefore what makes me think that something more exists about the process itself. When we see a case, like this one here in Oporto, where a person who entitles herself as in charge of a aggressions done, and identifies who the aggressors are, (Carolina Salgado) and then we have the result in an individual's body (Ricardo Bexiga) and this process is shelved …
For lack of proofs!
And as counter point we have a process where it was not even assured if the lady (Leonor Cipriano) in question was attacked or not. It is not certain, and with her solely contradictions someone could do another book … because the lady lies explicitly and adjusts to the times consecutively … and that is the only truth. There is a principle in the Portuguese Constitution that sometimes people forget. In case of doubt the culprit is always favoured. And this as always been the ‘North’ which orientated me as a police officer during 17 years. I prefer to leave a thousand of offenders in the street than putting an innocent person one night in prison. And I think that sometimes there are people with responsibility that forgets this. And it is sad that this happens.
Do you think that in case of the Maddie, with the quantity of agents and investigators there was some « showing off »?
It seems to me that in this case there was a motivation from the police and from the judicial structure to move to that place all the possible resources in the sense that, and as we were already in a stage of great international visibility, we would not be accused of any laxness (negligence), or of having turning our backs to the investigation or of printing a slow rhythm, or of giving few resources to the investigation itself. The fact is that these persons were there in the order of dozens and what it is a fact is that I believe that in cases as this one it’s adequate a multidisciplinary team reduced to four, five, six persons at most.
What happened to the Joana, the courageous girl, like you call her in your book?
I sign under the book, on what happened.
Joana was attacked, killed, her body cut up, put in plastic bags inside a car to be taken for a scrap metal in Spain where it was possibly incinerated?
The court in terms of corpse's occultation did not make a formal sentence, but I also tell you, though for the vast majority of the people the important thing is the body, like it was important the body of the Maddie, of Rui Pedro, and of all those missing children which eventually the society internalized that they almost certainly died, still without anything pointing to it, but it is normal after a certain amount of time that society thinks that death will be an inevitable ending, for us investigators its not as important. While we are not able to establish what exactly happened in a certain place it is not worthwhile to go further. In the case of the Joana the important thing was to establish if there was or not a murder, and after, in which circumstances and practiced by whom. It is then that one leaves for the next phase.
It was important to know about the past of the girl.
The great drama of this is that Joana Cipriano had to die to become important for whoever she was. While she was alive, she was a child that no one gave attention to; she even had her hair cut like ‘three blows’ (three scissor chops) in house by the mother. There I question the mother's concept. And if Mrs. Leonor Cipriano wants she can put another process: I doubt that she was ever a mother in the true sense of the word. She was not. A mother takes care and nurtures. But the signs were all there. The signs of the abuse on that child were there. There was already a reference in terms of social security in which the ladies who gone there and found the worst fact was that the children were eating chocolate cookies that could do badly to their teeth. This is something which …
... shames us as citizens …
So many things embarrass me as a Portuguese … In certain things still this country, though it weights the billions of subsidies that were brought to us along these last 25 years, our country is only part of Europe for a geographical coincidence.
Rui Pedro, is there still hope that he is alive?
It’s a process that is still in investigation. One day is too long, ten years … but the question at the end of this time must be put under a different point of view: what happened to Rui Pedro?! And it’s because of Rui Pedro and many other missing children who are lost that the APCD is not going to have a rest, at least while I am in charge. We have the Dr. Bagão Félix that will be the president of the financial council and I want to take this chance to initiate a challenge to the general public. We in terms of association grew in associates' numbers in the last months, as a direct result of some insistence. We have nearly two thousand associates, but we have a number that we understand that it is the minimum in order for us to have some social impact, which is it of ten thousand associates. The associate quota is of two and a half euros (2.50€) per month, being that the money is not to pay salaries. It is to be used in campaigns to help the parents of the missing children. And then we will have to be lobbyists. In a positive meaning. We defend a cause which is noble, as many other noble causes, but this is the one that we want to address, and we don’t have to be ashamed of being lobbyists in the defence of this cause. What this means is that if we need to bother Ministers, so it will be, attorneys who detain processes, yes absolutely, police officers, we will do everything in order that they do not forget that "child". And we will move all the resources and influences in a positive way, without obstructing any type of investigation. There is a house that is waiting for them, hoping that they return. Or that the circumstances in which they went out are clarified. Add to this fact that we have to be implacable with the persons who were behind of the disappearance of these children.
When are we going to read your next book?
In the next month (March). It is going to be on the problematics of the case Madeleine. Just like the « The Star of Joana » (A Estrela de Joana), being certain that here the author draws conclusions. I do not like finishing things without conclusions.
Source: O 1º de Janeiro
Joana Cipriano Case
28 Nov 2007 by Joana Morais
Leonor Cipriano and her brother, who had a incestuous relationship, were both sentenced to 16 years in jail, after appealing to Portuguese Supreme Court, for the murder of Joana Cipriano. Her body never appeared, but blood found inside ...
RTP: Sem rasto da Joana
28 Nov 2007 by Joana Morais
A menina Joana Guerreiro, de 8 anos, desaparecera da aldeia de Figueira, no concelho de Portimão. A mãe, Leonor Cipriano, desdobrou-se em entrevistas à comunicação social onde lamentava o desaparecimento da filha. ...
PAULO CRISTÓVÃO Grande Entrevista
1 Dec 2007 by Joana Morais
Os casos de Joana Cipriano e de Madeleine McCann. Ctação: «Qualquer um de nós é um homicida em potência» Quem é Paulo Pereira Cristóvão? Paulo Pereira Cristóvão nasceu em Lisboa há 38 anos. Em Novembro de 1990 entrou para os quadros da ...
Missing Children 2007
27 Dec 2007 by Joana Morais
The case of Joana Cipriano highlights serious omissions on the part of authorities who failed to spot that the little girl was being exploited and neglected. According to a neighbour of the girl, Joana seemed unnaturally mature for her ...