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Cipriano Case: The Joana case Returns to Court

Nothing in common with Maddie
By Duarte Levy

António Pragal Colaço, the lawyer defending the Lisbon-based Polícia Judiciária (PJ) inspectors who have been accused by the public prosecutor of having tortured Leonor Cipriano, told journalists that his clients will be tried “for a political reason”.

Inspectors Leonel Marques, Pereira Cristóvão and Paulo Bom are accused of torture. The fourth, António Cardoso, is accused of falsifying documents for having allegedly lied in the report of what had happened to Joana’s mother.

Joana’s mother has never accused Gonçalo Amaral - the only inspector from the Algarve PJ headquarters - of aggression, as several British media have claimed in an attempt to draw a parallel between the Cipriano and the Madeleine McCann cases. The inspector, who is still waiting to hear whether he will face trial or not, is being heard in court for not having reported the alleged attack. However, despite the fact that Gonçalo Amaral coordinated the investigation, his lawyer, Antonio Cabrita, considers that he does not have “the obligation to know everything”. As he pointed out, if this were the case, then the PJ’s national and assistant national directors would also have to be charged.

Following the preliminary session last Monday at the court in Faro, the judge, Ana Lucia Cruz, has ten days to decide which inspectors will face trial and for what charges.

While Leonor Cipriano, sentenced to 16 years in prison for the murder of her daughter, claims to have been attacked and tortured by three Lisbon inspectors, the PJ has always affirmed that Joana’s mother wanted to commit suicide by throwing herself from the top of the stairs.

The lawyer of the three inspectors accused of torture made reference to a French physician’s report on Diana’s death in Paris in 1997, which confirmed that injuries to the princess’s eyes and face were caused as a result of her car accident. This thus reinforces the possibility that the bruises on Leonor Cipriano’s face could have resulted from her suicide attempt, as the inspectors have always claimed.

Joana’s death

Joana Isabel Cipriano Guerreiro was eight years old the day she disappeared. Her mother and her uncle were tried and sentenced for her death despite the fact that the body was never found.

One month after Joana’s disappearance, the PJ’s national director decided to send three inspectors to Faro to find Joana. By this time her mother and uncle had already confessed to the crime, but had not revealed where her body was. Leonor and João Cipriano were again questioned, but revealed nothing further concerning the body’s whereabouts.

The enquiry revealed that João, Joana’s uncle, is a manipulator and is violent under the influence of alcohol. On the day his niece disappeared, he had spent the afternoon drinking. João and Leonor are part of a family that people in the neighbourhood describe as very strange, with an alleged history “of sexual relationships between the children (brothers and sisters) and their parents, domestic violence and possible consanguinity.”

According to the enquiry, João had had a sexual relationship with both his twin sister, Anabela, and with Leonor, whose mother had forced her into prostitution. At the time of the event, Leonor had three children living with her (including Joana) and a fourth one with whom she was no longer in contact.

To explain their crime, João and Leonor Cipriano stated that Joana had seen them having sex and threatened to report it to her stepfather. The PJ did not accept this explanation as their enquiry pointed to the fact that Joana loved her mother and would probably have kept quiet about the incident.

The investigation concluded that João had raped his niece in front of her passive mother, and that they both beaten the child, thus causing her death. This would explain why they hid the body: João preferred to admit that he had killed Joana rather than to say that he had raped her. Without the body there would be no possibility of proving rape.

João Cipriano admitted aggressing Joana, first to the inspectors and later to his lawyer, and that she “remained on the floor without moving”. However, while the mother pretended to search for her daughter with her boyfriend, he also admitted that he was the one who chopped up the body, hid it in a car that was to go to a scrap-yard, which was then taken to Spain where it was burned and compacted.

This is the account that João Cipriano gave to the inspectors and repeated the next day in the presence of his lawyer. But when they asked him whether he had abused his niece, he answered indignantly: “I didn’t harm her, I just killed her.”

Forensic scientists found the sandals that her mother had said Joana was wearing at the time of her disappearance in the little girl’s home. They also found traces of her face and her hands on the walls, which confirmed her uncle’s statements. Traces of blood were found on the floor and in the refrigerator where João said he had kept the body before moving it to the car. Biological traces - possibly of sperm - were found in Joana’s bed and in a pair of the child’s underwear.

Thinking that João had already confessed, Leonor admitted the facts during her interrogation, and then turned to a photograph of Joana that was stuck on the wall, asking her for forgiveness.

She allegedly then became uncontrollable and shouted that she wanted to kill herself. It appears that the inspector was still busy writing the interrogation report when he heard shouting. According to this inspector, his colleagues told him that Leonor had attempted suicide by throwing herself down the stairs. She was examined by a doctor and then remanded in custody.

The following day the police received an anonymous phone call informing them that people inside the prison were trying to convince Leonor to say that she had been attacked by the inspectors: the prison director sent a letter with photographs of Leonor to the national director of the PJ and to the press, accusing the inspectors of aggression.

A letter sent by another prisoner contradicts this version: she affirms that, while in prison, Joana’s mother had said that she had fallen down the stairs but that after a meeting with the prison director, she changed her version and said instead that she had been tortured and that she hoped to receive damages.

Despite several confrontations with the inspectors, Leonor Cipriano was unable to make any positive identification. The public prosecutor nonetheless decided to proceed with the lawsuit, even though he admitted that he, himself, could not guarantee that the inspectors being charged had anything to do with the alleged assault or whether any such assault had even actually taken place.

The inspectors’ lawyer and Carlos Anjos, president of the Association of Criminal Investigation Staff consider the public prosecutor’s decision to be politically motivated.

Source: with the Courtesy of Duarte Levy

Related: Marcos Aragão Correia: A “vision” of the Cipriano Case
Marcos Aragão Correia, who has promoted himself as a protagonist in the Madeleine McCann case, will be the new lawyer for Leonor Cipriano in the process against the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) inspectors that stand accused of having tortured the mother of Joana Cipriano(...)


  1. Gonçalo Amaral will never face a fair, unbiased trial in this country for as long as he lives.
    He has placed himself in a very uncomfortable position after he refused to put up & shut up in the McCann case. He will undoubtedly suffer the political consequences of his actions; but the Portuguese people KNOW that he is a decent, honest man who devoted his life to being a policeman. A darn good one, by the way.

    The Portuguese people will see to that justice is done.

    To Amaral.

    And to Madeleine McCann.

  2. I believe in Mr. Amaral’s innocence and hope that the statement of that fact will be the outcome of this process.

    However, my opinion is irrelevant.

    What is important here is that the clarification of this issue is done publicly. No protection, no PR maneuvers.

    If Mr. Amaral is guilty of wrongful action, then he should accountable for it. If, like I do believe and hope, the accusation is untrue, he is to be acquitted.

    Very simple. Pity some so called civilized nations see otherwise.


  3. http://www.statewatch.org/news/2008/may/02portugal-report.htm


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