1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

The Leonor Cipriano Case - Early Days

Excerpt from a debate on RTP – ‘Pros & Contras’ – last Monday evening, about the current state of the Portuguese Lawyers’ Order. On one side, the current Head of the Order, António Marinho Pinto, accompanied by the President of the District Counsel of Madeira, Fernando Campos, and of the Azores, Eduardo Vieira. On the opposite side, the President of the District Counsel of Lisbon and lawyer to the McCanns, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, the President of the District Counsel of Faro and lawyer to Gonçalo Amaral, António Cabrita, and former Head of the Order and also lawyer to the McCanns, Rogério Alves. The Joana case is subject to discussion, at some point during the debate.

"(3:04) Carlos Pinto de Abreu: “So much is said about the Joana case. The Joana case led Dr António Marinho Pinto to put a few photos in Expresso [newspaper]. But he did nothing more. Except now, a long time after, to nominate a lawyer to be an assistant in the Order’s name. This means that he doesn’t trust the lawyers who have been assigned – because there have been lawyers assigned, on behalf of the victims and on behalf of the arguidos, and so he didn’t trust those lawyers. He didn’t even trust lawyers in the Algarve. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t present any kind of solution. Contrary to what Dr Marinho Pinto did, which was to publish a photo in the Expresso newspaper, I, for example, wrote a letter to the Attorney General, asking for no criminal police force to investigate that case, precisely to prevent that the Polícia Judiciária, the GNR or the PSP would investigate it, but rather the Public Ministry’s magistrates themselves. These are concrete solutions. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t propose, in legislative terms, any change to the Penal Process Code to prevent this from happening, either. Apart from filing a complaint with the Public Ministry’s Superior Counsel and another one with the Magistrates’ Superior Counsel, concerning this matter, and I did that nominally, I have also proposed to the committee for the penal reform, and this was accepted, that all interrogations of arguidos have to be made in the presence of their lawyer.

(4:55) António Marinho Pinto: May I just say the following. When you say ‘put a few photos in Expresso’, what I did, as a journalist, which I was at that time, and worked for Expresso, I made a report about a case of torture at a criminal police force. And it took me, and I wish to publicly congratulate Expresso, because the work that I did, took four months. Four months. I went to the Algarve and to Odemira four times. I spoke with people at the prisons, I spoke with medics, I spoke with lawyers, I spoke with countless people, until I discovered the piece of evidence which were the photographs that I knew existed. And I published the article in Expresso. It was that, more than 30 thousand letters one could write, secretly, to the entities, it was that which made justice move forward. That was what made justice move."

Taking advantage of this introduction, I propose a closer look at the early days of the so-called ‘Leonor Cipriano case’, which is largely a separate story from the ‘Joana case’.

On the 12th of September 2004, Joana Cipriano Guerreiro, aged 8, disappears from the village of Figueira, near Portimão. The disappearance takes place at around 8.30 p.m., after the girl left her home to buy milk and canned tuna. For days, her mother, Leonor Cipriano, makes appeals on television, stating that her daughter was abducted.

On the 21st of September, Leonor Cipriano is taken away for questioning by the PJ of Portimão. It is already suspected that Joana was murdered. Then, on the 25th of September, Leonor Cipriano is placed under preventive custody at the prison of Odemira, under special security measures, after confessing to the accidental death and concealment of Joana’s cadaver. Two days later, the Court orders preventive custody for her brother João Cipriano, co-author of the crime.

On Monday, the 27th of September, Leonor Cipriano accuses the PJ inspectors of physically assaulting her to force her to confess to the crime. After simulating intense abdominal pain, while under questioning at the PJ in Faro, and screaming that she was hit in the belly to force her to confess, the inspectors take her to Faro Hospital, where her entry is registered at 8.25 p.m. At the hospital, the spots of blood that Leonor had left on a chair at the PJ, and which she stated were the result of physical aggression by police officers, were unmasked as menstrual bleeding.

During the night of the 14th to the 15th of October, Leonor is questioned overnight, at the PJ building in Faro. No lawyer is present, allegedly because this is an ‘informal questioning’, according to the police officers. In the early morning of October 15, she is taken by the PJ agents themselves to the Health Centre in Odemira, with bruises on her face and body.

On the 7th of January 2005, the Public Ministry opens an inquiry to investigate the alleged aggressions from PJ agents against Leonor Cipriano.

On the 26th of February, weekly newspaper Expresso publishes an article titled ‘Questions without answer’, by journalist António Marinho Pinto, presently the head of the Portuguese Lawyers’ Order. On the front page of the newspaper, the photograph of Leonor’s face, covered with bruises. On the same day, Santos Cabral, then National Director of the Polícia Judiciária, states, in a press release, that it was exclusively through an initiative of the PJ itself that the investigations into the alleged aggressions against Leonor Cipriano were jumpstarted.

Dr Marinho Pinto may well claim that he is the centre of the Universe; it remains a fact that the investigation into the alleged torture was not started by him, as it was well under way when he published his article in Expresso.

On the other hand, it remains unexplained, to this day, how the photographs came into his possession. By making the Lawyers' Order an assistant in the case of Leonor Cipriano - a move that was, and still is, subject to much criticism among lawyers - Dr Marinho Pinto rendered it impossible for him to be summoned onto the witness stand.

Coincidence - or coincidental facts?


Pros & Contras, RTP, 01.06.2009

Diário de Notícias, 04.09.2007 - "A historic process for the Polícia Judiciária"

Diário de Notícias, 27.02.2005
- "Joana's mother may be freed in March"

Correio da Manhã, 30.09.2004 - "Leonor alleged that she was aggressed by the PJ"

Correio da Manhã, 26.09.2004
- "Mother confesses to daughter's accidental death"

Correio da Manhã, 02.04.2005
- "PJ agents against Leonor"


  1. After what happened to the little Joana, I regret her mother was not beaten more often.
    I hope her colleagues in prison will do it, for sake of Joana's soul.
    A monster, a monster, it is what she is.

  2. Marinho Pinto has a lot to answer, the abuse of his position at the head of the Lawyer's Order configures a crime, under the LO/OA deontological statute as well as in the Portuguese Criminal Code. He is an hypocrite, at one side he accuses lawyers of having amidst them 'rotten apples' who commit crimes - though cowardly he doesn't mention any specific names nor the crime - leaving speculations for the media and citizens; on the other hand he openly supported Marcos Aragão Correia, the psychic dodgy lawyer from Madeira.

    Marcos Aragão Correia who by his own words has admitted to receiving orders from a very dodgy detective's company 'Método 3' at the McCanns pay roll, who to obstruct the justice and the investigation to Maddie's murder created diversions like the fruitless searches in the Arade dam to the situation of framing one particular Judiciary Police inspector - Gonçalo Amaral. A lawyer who himself has stated that he offered an illegal agreement to one of the PJ inspectors in the OA/Cipriano versus PJ - an agreement where it was complicit that Amaral was to be framed and his head served on a plate if only they would turn on Amaral. The same lawyer who illegally forced a confession from João Cipriano, using a lie - to create yet again another appeal for the child murderer Leonor Cipriano.

    Just these two occurrences would be more than enough for the LO/OA to suspend him of his functions yet this lawyer, who was supported openly by the head of the bar Marinho Pinto[who actually went to the Court of Faro to express his support to Marcos Aragão Correia and to defend a convicted child murderer 'rights'] has done absolutely nothing; proving that the LO/OA cannot be self regulated, at least while Marinho Pinto continues to bend the institution of the Lawyer's Order code of conduct and ethics.

    Marinho Pinto is a shame to the Order, is a shame to the Law and the meaning of presumption of innocence, and should be suspended of his functions immediately.

  3. Thanks for the above post. (2nd on the page) very informative, and clearly written.

    At last I am beginning to understand the bigger picture.

    I find it rather frightening actually.

  4. M.Pinto é 1 desbocado e fez tudo de modo a não testemunhar.
    Mas? Mas?

    "On the opposite side, the President of the District Counsel of Lisbon and lawyer to the McCanns, Carlos Pinto de Abreu,.......

    and former Head of the Order and also lawyer to the McCanns, Rogério Alves"

    Nesse caso ,falemos de todos estes 3 e dos acompanhantes
    nas andanças do Julgamento(pela pobre da Joana)
    e do não julgamento(da pobre Maddie).
    Todos "diferentes" mas todos iguais.
    Tudo isto para conseguir o quê? Atingir QUEM? Submeterem-se a quem e a quê?
    O Nosso País está no seu melhor(como no antes):
    o futebol preenche os noticiários e o "vinho dá de beber?"comer"? a muita gente".

  5. Like anon 22:22

    I ask more and the Joana´s step -father?

    What think or know G.A. about that man with Joana?

    So, poor Joana,she have in her life at least 3 monsters(leonor,joão e o padrasto).

    I do not understand when a man make sex with a disturbed woman and knowing like she is and when a new life, a baby-Joana ,had born WHY the biological father have not take Joana to near him?

    Only sex,no? sex,sex,pleasure? no more,nothing.


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