Gonçalo Amaral: "The executive power is increasing its influence over the judicial"
by Benedita Oliveira
This Friday evening, Gonçalo Amaral will be in Coimbra, invited by “Campeão das Províncias”. The former Polícia Judiciária inspector will lead the second session of the “Province Evenings” cycle that takes place at the restaurant of the Coimbra camping park, in Portela.
In an interview to our newspaper, Gonçalo Amaral regrets that the “performance of justice is dangerously slipping into media exposure” and that there is an increasing “baleful influence of executive power over judicial power”.
Campeão das Províncias (CP) – Could one say that you are a ‘beirão’ [a native of the Portuguese region of Beiras] who is impelled by determination?
Gonçalo Amaral (GA) – There are no doubts left about that. I was born in Beira Alta (Torredeita – Viseu), I came to Lisbon at a young age, within a migratory movement that populated the capital. Nevertheless, I never lost my origins and my roots, and I never stopped being in touch with the region and with its inhabitants. I am proud to have been born in Beira and to have apprehended its stance in life, a very determined stance that has nothing to do with obsession.
CP – You have always bet on academic education throughout your career. Are you a man of diversified interests?
GA – I am a simple and humble man with strong beliefs. I defend principles and values that should shape our society, like the search for material truth and the performance of justice. My interests, while diversified, are based on respect and solidarity with other people, with a good dose of common sense.
CP – How would you describe the period during which you were a PJ inspector?
GA – It was a period of learning and a great contribution towards the performance and the making of the principles that I mentioned above. We are aware of the fact that we serve the State and society.
CP – Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
GA – I have the dream of actively contributing towards the well-being and the fulfilment of dreams of helpless, abandoned, mistreated and abused children. I believe that I still have a strong contribution to make in that area, which may include creating a foundation to support those children, and possibly teenagers in our country.
CP – Do you feel penalized or the victim of injustice with all the media exposure from the Maddie case?
GA – No! Unfortunately, I am starting to understand that the performance of justice is dangerously slipping into media exposure. Which is not good for justice.
CP – Were you surprised about the McCann couple’s commitment to remove your book about the case, from the market?
GA – The timing of the injunction was surprising. I remind you of the fact that in August of 2008, the couple stated that my book was innocuous, that it brought nothing new and that they weren’t thinking about suing anyone. It is legitimate to ask why they did it one year later, when the book wasn’t selling anymore.
CP – The child’s parents allege that there are several leads that were not followed. Do you think the reopening of the process is possible?
GA – The child’s parents talk about pseudo leads, that are always related to the abduction theory. I remind you that they “demanded” the archiving of the process, in 2008, when they were arguidos, merely to defend their image. They are not interested in the reopening of the process or of the investigation, where all hypotheses remain open, from a voluntary disappearance up to homicide, like the Public Ministry mentions in the archiving dispatch. They are only interested in the defence of their image.
CP – Do you still consider that Portugal is a country with freedom of expression?
GA – Portugal is a country with freedom of expression, insofar as there is no previous censorship or editorial prohibitions that emanate from the State’s executive body, which is to say, our governments, after the [revolution of] 25th of April , did not create any institutions that limit the exercise of freedom of expression. Nonetheless, the judicial system, through injunctions, has been the target of attempts to limit freedom of expression, through the tenebrous instrument that is an injunction. This juridical instrument allows for the limitation of fundamental rights without the possibility of contradiction, which becomes baleful for our democracy.
CP – What is your opinion about the Portuguese judicial system?
GA – The justice system has serious problems of inefficiency and inefficacy. On the other hand, within the model of separation of powers, there is an increase in a baleful influence of the executive power over the judicial power. The independence and the irresponsibility of the judicial magistrates is at stake, because of some media exposed cases, with premature changes in the penal and penal process laws.
CP – Does Portugal have the necessary means for an effective combat against corruption?
GA – I think it does! Over the last few decades, there have been significant advances in the anti-corruption legislation. The problem does not lay in the creation of new criminal types, like that case of illicit enrichment. The question is the investigation method. Criminal investigation of corruption has to be pro-active, one cannot await the criminal action and then “go out to search for kilos and kilometres of papers” to analyse. It will be effective and efficient to start the investigation before the action, and to seek the end of said investigation with a possible detention in flagrant offence.
Gonçalo Amaral will appeal the decision
The former Polícia Judiciária inspector will appeal the sentence that maintains the prohibition to sell the book “Maddie – The Truth of the Lie”. Gonçalo Amaral has classified the decision as “fully out of frame” and considered that the sentence is a reflection of “the state that freedom of expression is in, in Portugal”.
The book defends the thesis of Kate and Gerry McCann’s involvement in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine, in the Algarve, in May 2007.
The former Polícia Judiciária inspector has devalued the decision, noting that the trial was “one more step” in the fight that he holds in Justice, with the McCann couple.
Admitting that he is suffering “a persecution” by the British couple, who has filed other lawsuits against him, Gonçalo Amaral advanced that he is willing to go up to the European Court of Human Rights.
When he was removed from the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral has placed a full stop on his career at the police, with the purpose of reacquiring the plenitude of his freedom of expression about the case.
The book “Maddie – The Truth of the Lie” was removed from the market approximately one year after it was launched, due to the injunction that was requested by the McCann couple, and granted in a provisory way on the 9th of September, 2009.
Editor Guerra & Paz, TVI and Valentim de Carvalho, that sold the video with a documentary that was broadcast by the tv station, will also appeal the sentence.
in: Campeão das Províncias, 25.02.2010