Supreme Court refuses to review Joana case sentence
by José Manuel Oliveira
Lack of new evidence dictated decision. João Cipriano denies his niece’s death and accuses his sister of having sold her daughter.
The Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) deliberated not to carry out the sentence review that had been requested by Leonor Cipriano, who serves a 16-year prison sentence, just like her brother, João Manuel, over the co-authorship of the death of her daughter Joana, who went missing on the night of 12/09/2004, in the village of Figueira, near Portimão, where she lived, and whose body has still not appeared.
The judicial decision is due to not existing “effectively new facts”, nor “truly relevant” evidence” hearing the two inmates within an extraordinary appeal for revision of sentence, in December 2009. The child’s mother’s lawyer, Marcos Aragão Correia, has lamented the judicial decision and stated to Diário de Notícias, yesterday, that he will gather “new evidence in order to request a new revision”.
The Supreme Court’s decision, that is dated 17/12/2009 and signed by judges Souto Moura, Soares Ramos and Carmona da Mota, which Diário de Notícias had access to, mentions that João Manuel Cipriano, Joana’s uncle, who was heard at the Sentence Execution Court, in Lisbon, “denies having written, denies having signed and does not remember having dictated, to anyone, the contents of a statement that was presented as being authored by him”. Nonetheless, he confirms the visit from his sister’s lawyer, Aragão Correia, to the Carregueira Prison, in Belas (Sintra), where he is held, who asked him to speak about his niece’s case, adding that if he did not say the truth, an inmate from another prison might come to murder him on behalf of the people who wanted to buy Joana.
After recognising, during said meeting with Aragão Correia, that he had murdered his niece after trying to sell her, a deal that failed “because there was no money”, João Cipriano ended up presenting a different version to the Supreme Court’s judges. According to the document, he asserted that he “never tried to sell his niece to anyone, but on the night that she disappeared, his sister told him to come to the door because there was a car near the church that was going to take her daughter, whom she had sold to a foreign couple”. In that statement, Joana’s uncle says that he “saw the car, saw his niece entering the vehicle in which she was driven away. He never saw his niece again.”
On the other hand, Leonor Cipriano confesses that it was her brother who talked her into handing her daughter over to a Spanish couple in exchange for money, but when facing a failed deal, João “killed” the child and buried her body “in the hills of Figueira”.
source: Diário de Notícias, 09.01.2010