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Maddie Blues

The Portuguese police officer, who suspected the parents, saw the inquiry into the disappearance of the little English girl taken away from him. A sanction that he finds difficult to digest.

by Marie Piquemal

No case has ever troubled his sleep. Not even the mysterious disappearance of little Maddie, who remains to be found after two years. At that time, he was a police inspector in Portimão, in Southern Portugal. A few kilometres away from the seaside resort of Praia da Luz, where the McCann family spent their holidays. When the little 3-year-old girl vanished on the night of the 3rd of May 2007, Gonçalo Amaral found himself on the front line. As the head of the investigation. And propelled onto the front pages of magazines, side by side with the pretty face of the missing child.

The image of the little blonde girl and of her pink soft toy went around the world. The media coverage, with a dimension that had never been seen before, was sagely orchestrated by the parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, and their press attaché, hired during the initial hours. In this tourbillion of emotions and images, inspector Amaral soon became a key character of the drama. A controversial figure. From the beginning, the British tabloids made fun of his bellied physique, of his glittering Prada glasses, his tendency for alcohol and napping. When the cop started suspecting the parents over “simulation of abduction” and “concealment of a cadaver”, the press went wild.

We meet him again, two years later. In a Parisian hotel, on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré street. He has changed. Less belly and less hair. He has also razed off his moustache, which was worthy of a gendarme in Saint-Tropez. Stuck in his suit and tie, a haggard look behind thick eyebrows, he looks off. “The Maddie affair has changed him, he has become sad”, says his wife, Sofia, who doesn’t leave his side for a second. Dynamics for two.

Amaral is in Paris to launch his book, which has sold 180000 copies in Portugal. After the Maddie case, he left the police force. On the 2nd of October 2007, after five months without news about the little English girl, he is removed from the inquiry by his superior. Vexed, he goes into early retirement, at the age of 48. “I wasn’t removed from the inquiry over incompetence, but for a moment caught off-guard”, he insists. Which means, over criticism of the British police officers, accusing them of being manipulated by the McCann clan. The Portuguese police irritated the McCann family from the outset. A lack of professionalism, some say, with the Anglo-Saxon arrogance. Different work methods, others defend. Between both parties, the pit widens, incomprehension and hatred take over the exchange. The culture of secrecy that involves the Portuguese inquiry clashes with the excessive media coverage that is orchestrated by the English.

Inspector Amaral doesn’t relent: “Why take the risk of publishing the child’s photo since the first hours, all over the world? That’s good to make a potential abductor panic and kill the child. It is necessary to work in silence. At least during the initial stages.” Incomprehension becomes an open war when, during the summer after the disappearance, the Portuguese investigators emit the possibility of a simulation. And what if the parents are guilty? Officially suspecting the McCanns, placing them under the particular status of arguidos, (“official suspects”): the passionate British public opinion doesn’t accept it. It cries out over the scandal. It’s too much, inspector Amaral falls.

Today, he explains himself. Here’s his theory, in short: The parents are responsible for their daughter’s death. Domestic accident, maltreatment or murder. It doesn’t matter. “The politically correct theory of abduction doesn’t stand, he assures. The child is dead.” He articulates his demonstration around two key points. First, there are blood traces that were detected by the sniffer dogs, in the apartment and in the car that was rented by the McCanns over twenty days after the child’s disappearance. “The analyses demonstrate that the blood partly fits Madeleine McCann’s DNA profile”. Then, there’s statistics. “Crimes against children, including of sexual nature, are committed by parents in 84% of cases.” For him, not a shred of doubt. Us, we close the book just like we opened it, without a certainty.

Why did this man write this book? Conviction or obsession? Tenacity or stubbornness? To make money from sensationalism? He waves criticism away with a wink of his hand. “It’s a matter of values, of justice and the truth”.

Nowadays, the former cop wishes for the process to be reopened, to “find Maddie’s body”. And to rehabilitate the Portuguese police’s image. And his own. The former inspector has been charged over false testimony in another case that involved a missing child, whose body was never found. Leonor Cipriano, the mother of Joana (aged 8), who was condemned to sixteen years in prison, states to having confessed her daughter’s murder after having been beaten by policemen under Amaral’s control, and that he covered for them afterwards. Without blinking, he sees there another attempt at destabilisation.

Gonçalo Amaral is one of those people with an ice cold intelligence, which surprises, intimidates and disconcerts. No space is left, however tiny, for compassion, emotion or any form of affection. To him, Maddie’s parents (and their friends) are guilty of having left their children alone without surveillance in their room, while they dined at the hotel’s restaurant. Without pity, he states: “They should be punished for that. It’s the parents’ duty to watch over their children. Do you think a three-year-old child is safe, alone in a room? Anything could happen to her: an electrical malfunction or whatever, not even speaking of abduction”.

Gonçalo Amaral has three daughters from two marriages. “He’s a very relaxed daddy. With him, the children are allowed everything”, says his wife Sofia. In his book, Amaral evokes his youngest daughter Inês, the same age as Maddie. “A brunette version”. Not a word about his infancy north of Lisbon, with his five siblings, his homemaking mother and his working class father. He doesn’t tell us how he entered public service as a simple agent, at the age of 14, either, “because at that time, it was possible”. His path is sown with evening courses, to climb the stairs until that post as coordinator of the criminal investigations department of the judiciary police in Portimão.

Apart from the Maddie case, he has worked on delicate cases, namely those that are related to drugs trafficking. “That work, it was his life. To stop was a deep gash”, his wife says. He has tried a rebound in politics. He wanted to run for the municipal elections in October 2009 in Olhão, for the social democratic party (centre-right formation). The party’s president refused “because she feared a mixture between politics and justice”. Therefore, he’s taken to writing another book, about other police affairs. There is still a page to turn.

source: Libération, printed edition, 01.06.2009


  1. Good luck to Mr Amaral for the future and I hope he can continue to strive for justice for Madeleine , I have huge admiration for this man and wish him every success .

  2. Maybe Goncalo needs to step away from this case now, I can't see that he'll ever resolve it.

    He's writing a book about other police matters now, so that will take up his time.

    Time to move on I think. It's too late now for Madeleine, no one can help her and her parents are far too protected.

    They've won haven't they. Not only that but they've shown the world how to get away with serious crime. Karen Matthews tried it and failed, and so did Casey Anthony but there will be other, smarter people coming along to copy these arseholes.

    No child is safe now - that's the legacy they've left for Madeleine.

  3. good wishes to mr,mrs Amaral,you have a lot of people world wide
    who are traveling this road with you.

  4. Mr Amaral, is an honourable, honest and hard working man who in telling the truth and executing his job without any prejudice, was removed from his occupation due to pressure from by two lying swingers who are responsible for the death of one of their children by leaving all of their infant children alone while they attended an alcohol fuelled diner with their swinging friends.
    Let us hope that in the not to distant future the truth will be revealed and Mr Amaral will be vindicated when the McCann’s are forcibly returned to Portugal to stand trial for their dastardly crimes

  5. Oh how my heart aches for you Mr Amaral.I hope that one day you will find justice for Madeleine McCann.I think you deserve all the admiration and encouragement from all that writ on this blog.
    I live in England and If it was not for you and this website, myself and others would still be in the dark concerning this case.
    I wish you well sir.

  6. Anon who said its never going to be resolved...I agree, but as for getting away with it..I don't..they may not have faced judicial charges but look at the forums..look at the foreign press...Look at Amaral..a thorn in their sides..That is karma..and karma is going all out to make sure there is a price for their filthy deed.They are sullied with the stigma of the people who either killed their child by neglect or worse..or they are the sods who abandoned their kids paving the way for an abductor..they will live with the finger pointing and the whispers..As one day their children will.

  7. ...Nowadays, the former cop wishes for the process to be reopened, to “find Maddie’s body”. And to rehabilitate the Portuguese police’s image...

    As a British citizen I deeply desire this to happen. Please Portugal re-open this case and solve it. Find where Madeleine was put.

    It is a great time to re-open the process. I have just heard today here in the UK that our politicians have not been viewed this badly by the electorate since the 1820's !!!

    That is Gordan Brown's legacy.

    His own party has not polled so low since records began. Labour have 18 per cent of the vote right now. He has barely any loyal supporters around him now.

    Gordan Brown is in the deepest dark depths. He has very little credibility within his own party and virtually no control over any policy. The public ridicule him and he lacks the charisma, humility and common sense to do anything about it. So to my good European friends


    and extradite the parents. Put them in prison and interview them time and time again until the mother tells the truth. Locate the body which I believe is in the church and sue Clarence Mitchell & the UK papers that tarnished the good name of Portugal and Dr.Amaral Expose this charade and most importantly raise the spirits of the vast majority of British and Portugese citizens.

    If that cannot happen then Dr. Amaral get in comtact with Portugal's richest people and get them to back you all the way through the courts and do it yourself. Firmes y Dignos

  8. “It’s a matter of values, of justice and the truth”.

    succinctly put Dr. Amaral.

    There are thousands who support you and urge you forward in this quest on behalf of all the people drawn into the McCann's murky world.

  9. Dr. Amaral, I wish you all the best, and that your efforts to obtain Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann may succeed! Thank you, on behalf of honest, decent, loving human beings everywhere. You are truly an example for all of us.

  10. Anonymous @ 17:04, it's not time for Amaral to step down, it's time for him to step up his fight and take it before a COURT OF LAW!
    Only in this way will Justice be achieved and Madeleine's memory honoured like she deserves.

  11. Gonçalo, Sofia, we stand side by side with you and will not rest until justice is done. God bless!!!

  12. God Bless you Mr Amaral Please Please don't give up on this case you are Madelaine's only hope for justice. The Maccanns are in a panic The politicians in England are in disgrace and Gordon Brown is on his way out he is finished please don't stop trying to find the truth you are a shining light God be with you.
    Madelaine needs you.

  13. Boa sorte, Dr. Amaral, a verdade vencerá!

  14. Hoje é o Dia Mundial da Criança e ao ler este artigo o que ressoou em mim foram aspectos como a defesa de valores, de justiça e de verdade. De honra, de compromisso, de dignidade, de exemplo, de AMOR acrescentaria. Não há maneira de pisarmos com força na vida nem de sermos um farol na vida dos nossos filhos senão respirarmos isto. Não há super pais mas há pais atentos, responsáveis. Os pais de Madeleine ainda que se livrem da justiça não se livram da sentença de acordarem todos os dias a saber o que realmente aconteceu à filha mais velha. Haverá sempre um nó na garganta destes pais e um casamento irremediavelmente desfeito. Há culpa, há remorso, há choro e zanga naquela casa mas isso não vem nas revistas. É o inferno privado daquela família. Fazer uma caminhada pela vida sem perdermos a capacidade de nos indignarmos pode provocar algumas baixas entre os nossos amigos e conhecidos, no nosso trabalho, na nossa vizinhança mas no fim da linha e quando fizermos o balanço desta breve passagem serão estas as decisões que serão avaliadas e não outras. Penso eu. Ainda assim consigo muitas vezes sentir uma enorme compaixão por este casal (imagine-se!) por ver como é possível sair de rota com tanta facilidade e pensar na imensa dor que esse desvio pode provocar.

  15. Why are they swingers? What's that?

  16. 23.47, anonymous,

    swingers is a word that indicates a group of couples that exchange partners among themselves, sexually.

  17. Analize This, without Robert de Niro,

    On FindMadeleine.com, there was a black and white family photo, parents and the three children.
    In movements, the picture would disappear and would be followed by several other pictures, always moving further and further, and it would go back to the first family photo.
    This all has been removed out of that site.Why?
    Can Sargento analyze this?

  18. day Mr Amaral will see the truth revealed. It could be soon and it could be later. At least he has written a book and he should enjoy life - hopefully, the proceeds from the book will enable this. He has opened a hornet's nest though and needs to watch his back. Good on him, and thankyou for the book. Can't wait for it to come to Australia.

  19. dera mr and mrs amaral, i write this message in the hope it may give you a little more motivation to keep going and not to be disheartened by some of the stupid and nasty comments, a lot of people in england are really hoping for you to do a fantastic job of showing those so called PARENTS that they are not above the law and should be punished for not supervising their children. i really hope that you get your chance to show the FACTS to the world rather than a crappy mocumentary that shows nothing but what the family and friends wanted others to see. good luck mr and mrs
    amaral and i wish you all the luck in the world and hope that you will never be swayed from your current path. there are a lot of us in england who want to know what has happened to that innocent little girl. my children still ask is madeline is found, but as a last note from me i wonder why they are being protected ? the protection is out of place odd and for the circumstances of the dissapearance why have the parents not been charged with neglect? they must be very special?
    fight on mr amaral fight on......


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