Gonçalo Amaral: “I owe the McCanns nothing”
The investigator and former Judiciária coordinator in Maddie’s disappearance speaks about his book “The English Gag”. Controversial
by Pedro Sales Dias
The investigator and former PJ coordinator in the case of the disappearance of Maddie presents a new book in which he says he is silenced by the “English gag”. In an interview to I, he speaks about the [revolution of the] 25th of April  and reveals that his future passes through the practise of law, and speaks about the recently published book: “The English Gag”.
You have already mentioned that you never expected to write this book. What are the reasons for that feeling?
On the 25th of April , I was 14 years old. As a matter of fact, I thought that 35 years after the 25th of April [revolution which reinstated democracy in Portugal] there would be no acts of censorship or limitations on freedom of expression. People may say that I was somewhat distracted or that I was a bit naïve, but I thought those things had already been overcome and none of that would return to this country. It seems that it did, with my case.
Did you feel censored and gagged when “Maddie – The Truth of the Lie” was taken off the Market (in September), after having been targeted with an injunction that was presented by the McCann family?
I felt censored and gagged, hence the title of book. It is a gag which is English because it is an English couple that demands the gag. In fact, being told to shut up while we believe we are offering a technical and founded opinion, we are using freedom of expression in a responsible manner, then it it very hard for us to accept being told to shut up and to remain silent. I have respected the injunction until the day that I have to violate it in my own defence. So far it has not been necessary, but if it becomes so, I will violate the injunction.
When and why will it be necessary?
It will be necessary… We are presently experiencing a campaign from the injunction’s plaintiffs whose purpose it is to discredit me. By discrediting, they are destroying not only me, but also my family. This has been growing. Since September, well orchestrated and well planned news have been coming out, which rummage through my private life. We are going to act against those who make propaganda out of less positive things in life, like my debts. I have gone on holidays with my three daughters, with debts. When I returned, I brought my daughters and also my debts. We all have debts. There is an official campaign, and a parallel one. Some day, we will try to understand whether or not they are connected. It puts my reputation at stake, whether or not I am a good father, a good husband, and the debts. It is necessary to put this man’s reputation at stake, and to silence him… I do not accept that, and if necessary, I will violate the injunction.
What can we expect from this book, some news, and the clarification of the truth?
A while ago, I said that it is a protest against this injunction. A condensed travel – it is small, easily read – about these problems of freedom of expression. I think it serves as a support and clarification document, even for the young people who did not live that period, and can only imagine it… At this moment, specific situations are being experienced and I think that the youth has an historical opportunity to understand how things were in practical terms, how things were. They are not exactly like that time, but they become very similar. To silence people, to remove books from the market, or to apprehend books, to seize their assets, those are things from way back when, before the 25th of April . It is happening to me in that way, they want to asphyxiate me financially.
Is there anything new in the book?
I don’t have to write about cases all of the time. And in this case, I even cannot. If I could, I would have written. There was a discussion among the lawyers who helped me to perfect the book, whether or not I should speak about the private detectives’ work, about the abduction theory and to clarify that they did a disastrous job. Those gentlemen accuse me of being guilty of all evil, of not having found the missing child. They forget about the activity that they have done so far – I am not speaking about their responsibility in anything – and the detectives’ work.
The thesis about Maddie’s disappearance if not merely a thesis, it’s an investigation that is based on facts…
I cannot speak about that. I can tell you that what is in the book is in the process, that is to say, it reports about an investigation that is also supported by the process itself. One thing is the other. And it is only the work from May until October, while I led the investigation. Then, the work continued. We have already presented documental and witness evidence that what is in the process, is in the book. It is factual. There is no defamation. What is in there, is a technical and founded opinion about reports of what happened there…
The process is public…
But it should have been censored. If they say that this book, which is based on the process, is defaming, then the process also defames. Why don’t they censor the process itself? It is in circulation… It has been distributed to all journalists.
What is the truth about the Maddie case?
At the moment, I am forbidden from speaking about truths and lies, therefore I have to keep silent about that. I cannot even share my thoughts, as foreseen in the injunction. Now look at what things have come to…
The parents of Madeleine, who disappeared on the 3rd of May 2007, in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, consider that the thesis that Gonçalo Amaral defends in the book, that both are involved in their daughter’s disappearance, is unsustainable…
I can tell you that I have not seen written anywhere, anything that rebuts what is written in the book. They say that the book defames, but nobody picks up any part of the book to say what is a lie and what is not in the process. That is the major issue. Nobody questioned what is in the book, page by page. Nobody says why it is defamatory. Justice is performed in silence when it runs its normal course. I was already silent, I was writing another book about the Police. When this happened, I had to put it aside to give a public reply.
As a former Polícia Judiciária coordinator, in one of the most recent and most media-exposed investigation cases in Portugal, what is the priority in the scale of juridical values, for you: an injunction that is imposed by an English couple, or the right to freedom of expression?
There are limits. There is a hierarchy of values. The use of responsible freedom of expression will always be above private life itself. If you look at the Republic’s Constitution, freedom of expression is worth more.
What will you do in the future?
I will start my practise in law… I am going to be a lawyer…
source: I, 16.12.2009