Gonçalo Amaral interviewed by Rita Ferro Rodrigues
Sic morning show 'Companhia das Manhãs' 28.12.09
Rita Ferro Rodrigues - RFR
Gonçalo Amaral- GA
RFR: (...)Our program is going very well. Now it's time to receive a very special guest that all of you at home know, the former inspector of the Judiciary Police, Gonçalo Amaral, who has launched his second book. The first one was removed from the market due to a temporary injunction imposed by the McCann couple, and Gonçalo now counteracts with another book. But before we're going to see a report, and then we are going to speak with Gonçalo Amaral.
00.25'' video report on the McCanns at the Lisbon Civil Court (archive footage)
Voice Over: The McCann couple came to Lisbon but the hearing was postponed. Gonçalo Amaral's lawyer is in a quarantine, in question are suspicions of influenza A [swine flu]. Kate and Gerry McCann say that they were not disappointed and they're going to do their best to return in January.
Cut to Kate McCann: "Why would we be disappointed? Hum...I mean, today was really for the benefit of Mr. Amaral and his team, and the full team wasn't here [for the record: 3 Inspectors were called for that 11th December hearing, just one PJ officer didn't appear as he already knew that the hearing would be postponed]. Hum.. As it stands the judicial decision remains so we have no reason to be disappointed." Cut to Gerry McCann:" We are British, we fight for freedom of speech, but, if you cross the line then you must be prepared to defend yourself in court." Cut to Kate McCann: "Freedom of speech should not include distortion of the truth, lies, fabrication and slander."
Voice over: Under the scope of the temporary injunction that suspends the sale of the book, the British couple demands for 1, 2 million euros for compensation for defamation. In the book 'The Truth of The Lie', Gonçalo Amaral involves the McCanns in the concealment of Maddie's cadaver. But the former inspector claims his freedom of speech, and he makes a point: 'The English Gag' is the title of his new book.
Cut to Gonçalo Amaral: "(...)It would be the last straw; this is a book about censorship and freedom of speech, to censorship this book, to prohibit the commercialization of this book, or the readership of the book, would be...that would mean that the Portuguese state would be 'crawling'(...)"
Voice Over: Behind stays 'The Truth of the Lie'. He doesn't have any regrets, but with certainty, besides the temporary injunction, the former inspector will have to face the consequences.
Cut to Gonçalo Amaral: "I feel calumniated, vilified, my family has suffered greatly, there are many damages done, and, as I said before, at the right time, at the right place, we will ask for the indemnity to redress those damages."
Voice Over: Nevertheless, there is no one who can silence him at a time to criticize the McCanns.
Gonçalo Amaral: "I could ask, and I have the legitimacy to do so, if in a determined interview, the interviews are worth what they are; someone says that they are focused in finding their daughter, who is missing - and I believe that I'm not in violation of the injunction when I say this, I'm not speaking about any thesis, just of the disappearence - and that they are not interested in suing anyone. Seeing that they sued now, are they still focused on finding?"
Voice Over: The date of the book presentation coincided with the beginning of the hearing, but Gonçalo Amaral says it was a mere chance occurrence. And he guarantees, after the 'gag' there is much to tell.
02:50'' back to the studio
Rita Ferro Rodrigues: And indeed, there is much to tell. Gonçalo Amaral is our guest, and the first question that I want to make is: And the trial, when is it going to happen?
Gonçalo Amaral: Actually, it's an interesting question, it's not a trial. We are on a phase of the temporary injunction, of opposing to the injunction. We have already presented the documented proof of what we state, and now would be the matter of presenting the testimonial evidence, so, it is an hearing, a hearing of our witnesses, as well as witnesses from Valentim de Carvalho [the company that produced the banned documentary based on Gonçalo Amaral's book and on the investigation case files], from Guerra e Paz [the banned book editors], hence this isn't a trial. Actually, it wasn't something that was wished by the requesting party, the opposition is never wished by the requester.
RFR: Of course. Gonçalo, if the first book was removed from the market, as we all know, because of the temporary injunction imposed by the McCann couple, do we also risk to see the 'Gag' also taken from the market? Because this is clearly a book to counteract, made by you, as Gonçalo say, also of defence of what you consider to be a serious attack on freedom of speech... Is there a risk, of this book being also removed from the market?
GA: There is a risk that all the books or all the texts, that are contrary to determined opinions, of determined ways of thinking of other people, of being removed from the market. From this temporary injunction, from the moment the injunction was decreed, which wasn't easy [referring to the fact that the McCann's injunction had to go twice to the judge to be accepted], I can tell you that in May it was rejected by the judge, who later on accepted it at the appeal request; from now on everything and anything is possible. Hence, this isn't an issue of Gonçalo Amaral, but a matter of freedom of expression of the Portuguese, and of those who are in agreement with 25 de Abril [carnation revolution in 1974]. So, today risks exist; there were various attempts to try and remove books from the market, even pre-censored, but from now on, in opposition to the Portuguese courts jurisprudence everything is possible.
RFR: The first book, as we know, portrayed your experience, and some of your conclusions during the investigation to the Maddie Case, and this second book is exactly about what?
GA: This book is a reflection on censorship and freedom of expression, regarding what has happened to the other book, on the temporary injunction, a provisional decision, which has been 'sold' has if it was something definite - something that is not true; that is why there is a legal opposition. It's a book that speaks about all that, speaks of the conquests made in April [25 April 1974], speaks on our journey in terms of April - I was already here [in Lisbon] on the 25th of April day - so, these are conquers that define us as men, as human beings, and as it is said right here [the English Gag book] at the beginning, in a citation of Mário Soares* [former Portuguese Republic President, Left wing leader] regarding this matters: freedom, these conquests of freedom expression and freedom of information are something that we cannot allow, under any pretext to become suppressed again.
RFR: Very well, it's almost also, not almost, it's as well a declaration of yours, of revolt, against this alleged lack of freedom of expression. Gonçalo, that that we...
GA: Alleged? No. It really is lack of freedom of expression. Pardon.
RFR: Very well, that that we as citizens, for me as a person that is observant to the whole of this phenomena, and to this anguishing story, since the beginning. That that anguishes us most is, amidst all of this, is there anyone searching for the little girl?
GA: I don't think so...
GA: ...but I can't say anything else because of the temporary injunction. [But I, the translator, can. As long as the McCanns, Murat, or anyone from the Tapas group don't ask for the re-opening of the case, no police force in Portugal, in Britain or otherwise will be investigating the case - The McCanns could legitimately, as assistants to the process, have asked for the re-opening of the case, they didn't. The McCanns and the rest of the G9 group aka Tapas group could ask at any time to be heard and give evidences, or even offer to make the reconstruction, that would force the Portuguese Public Ministry to lift a certificate from the archived process thus reopening it. The official investigation would then continue. The silly attempts of employing former detectives and corrupted detectives by the McCanns is all but smoke and mirrors.]
RFR: And Gonçalo believes that they don't search because according to your conclusions...it's not worth it?...
GA: No, let's not go there. [refusing the provocation] There is a preoccupation for this couple: the matter of the image. Take notice, the investigation was ongoing, and that investigation, no one wished it to be archived or to end, at least for me, as a parent, I couldn't wish that any investigation ended without understanding - with diligences still to be made, a series of steps to be taken - and to make everything so that the process stayed archived. To the point of one of the parts that could have requested the re-opening of the investigation, one of the parts that was arguido [official suspect, referring to Murat that like the McCanns could have used his status of arguido to re-open the case process] even being compensated a few days before of the archiving- it's a mere coincidence, but the fact is that was exactly what happened. And that person then made various claims, criminal complaints against journalists; but he was also satisfied with the process archival. It's a matter of image, what is in question is just a matter of image. Just and only, since the beginning. And it is a matter of image, with a very well designed strategy, a strategy to discredit everything. They immediately started in 2007 discrediting the Portuguese Justice system, the Judiciary Police, the investigators that were on the case. In my case, I was vilified, I was defamed, I was called of everything and anything via the British press; and it went on, I was still...
RFR: Gonçalo, Let me make you one question. And I believe you, and I know what you are talking about, and I understand very well the drama of someone that is vilified in the press [reference to her father, Ferro Rodrigues], but I ask you - weren't the McCanns also, and now let's make believe that none of us has an opinion on this, weren't they also vilified and defamed in our press? [like in the Expresso newspaper, whose director, Henrique Monteiro, said "that he would loose his faith in humanity in case the McCanns were found guilty"? Or in the words of daily Destak newspaper director, Isabel Stilwell whose latest editorial was titled 'The former inspector attacks again" or maybe in the words of the former daily newspaper Público director, José Manuel Fernandes, who believed the McCanns were right to not do the reconstruction?! Funny how all of these directors one way or another belong to the PSD, have been investigated by the PJ or have some sort of connection to the new McCanns PR firm in Portugal, Lift Consulting and its CEO Salvador da Cunha. But I'll leave this to another time and place. Moving on.]
GA: No, I...
GA: No, I don't think so. What is in...the process, and notice, the process itself wasn't used by the requesting party to state that they were defamed. It was used a book - what is in the book is on the process - they say that the book defames them, and even that it difficults the search for the little girl, but they didn't use as proof nor joined to the claim the process that was distributed to the journalists, something that we used to opposed to [the claim]. What is there its facts, evidences, a series of things, for example, we could go and pick up the reports, or the couple could, the reports of the detectives agencies that they've hired and then we could understand what exactly those detective agencies did. There are a series of things that still need to be talked. And have to be discussed.
RFR: And they don't want that discussion, is that it?
GA: They don't want that debate, but that will have to happen... I have no doubts regarding that.
RFR: So you, Gonçalo... This is just the first step of this fight, is this the battle of your lifetime?
GA: No, I already had many battles, during all those years at the Police, I had various fights for Justice.
RFR: But this is a tough one?
GA: This isn't an easy one, if the path was easy what would our merit be? Let's say that, there are values and principles that are in question and of those I won't give up.
RFR: In the midst of this maelstrom, it was also involved, as you said, with serious damages for your family, we don't doubt it... In the midst of this turbulent situation the inspector; because for me you'll always be inspector, even if you are former inspector, inspector is your profession...
GA: Former Coordinator...
RFR: Coordinator, do you still go to bed at night with the thought, that is probably the primordial thought of all of us, that is, with Madeleine McCann, the child?
GA: The first worry in my life, are my daughters and my family, Maddie McCann forgive me but she comes after. I don't have that obsession, I'm not obsessed with. Now, I do have the conscience of all the actions that we have taken and that are now happening, are actions that will contribute to the discovery of the truth. Of that I have no doubt. Notice that the case was 'dead', let's say it in this way. The book [Maddie, The Truth of The Lie] wasn't selling anymore, the books have a period of 'life', that book wasn't selling. And when I knew about this temporary injunction, it was when that book was, somehow, sold in this year. Therefore, the discussion continues. There is something here that makes no sense, first one doesn't want it and then one advances in this way. The McCanns are betting a lot, them and their lawyer [Isabel Duarte], and even an image consulting company [Lift Consulting] that supports them, they are all betting a lot and they are surpassing the limits of privacy rights and they even committed a series of crimes. These are aspects that are being considered, we are still going to see how we are going to react to them. Now, in fact who has risen the level of the discussion were those gentleman, and we will, undoubtedly, answer to them.
RFR: How do you, Gonçalo, as a father, after this case, and after having investigated so many others, after this case your life was never the same? Is it true? Is it a fact? How do you explain all of this to your daughters?
GA: In a very simple manner. The oldest one, with 11 years old, watches and sees what happens in the media; the youngest one it's more the mother who explains to her. She explains to her that the little girl is missing, that her parents lover her very much, and they don't want to believe she is dead...
RFR: Is that the way?...
GA: And in this manner we try to explain... My wife tries to explain.
RFR: And is that also what you believe in?
GA: Pardon? In the death?
RFR: No, that the parents don't want to believe in the death, and that is why...
GA: Well, you know, the human beings, the condition of being a human being, everything is possible. Now it does shock me a bit, for example, that child that is missing has a small problem in her iris, some reference it as a coloboma, it could be associated with a series of illnesses, cardiac diseases. Have you ever seen the mother of that child worried, or sending a message to the abductor, worried about medical exams that may need to be done? Or even with vaccinations?...
RFR: There are many questions still...
GA: Even now that we had influenza A... There are things that shock us, but don't prove anything. Nevertheless we are left wondering... It raises doubts.
RFR: Gonçalo Amaral, we advise 'The English Gag', the new book by Gonçalo Amaral, which is another episode of this story of a man who is certainly going to fight a battle, even if it is to bring back his good name, and to defend himself of what he considers to be a huge attack by the McCanns.
* Former President Mário Soares citation in Gonçalo Amaral's book 'The English Gag', from a report made to the first PS Congress, the first meeting made in legality after the end of Salazar's regime 13.12.1974 : «The 25 de Abril was made under the sign of total freedom of information and expression, conquests that we wish to be definitive and that we will not allow to be perverted under no pretext whatsoever.»