On the last hearing session
Palácio de Justiça, 8th of July 2014
Judge Maria Emília de Melo e Castro presiding the trial
Dr. Miguel Rodrigues for Gonçalo Amaral, the book author
Dr. Fátima de Oliveira Esteves for Guerra e Paz, the book publishers of ‘Maddie, A Verdade da Mentira’
Dr. Miguel Coroadinha for TVI, the Portuguese TV channel that broadcast the documentary ‘Maddie, What lies beneath the Truth’
Dr. Henrique Costa Pinto for Valentim de Carvalho [VC] Filmes who produced the documentary and DVD copies with the same documentary that were never sold
Dr. Isabel Duarte for the McCann couple and their children, the claimants
What follows is the recount of what happened yesterday at court, to the best of my knowledge and short handwritten notes.
The Judge at the beginning of hearing sessions spoke and instructed the scribe about the request that had been made by Gonçalo Amaral’s previous lawyer so the defendant could be heard in court. That request was opposed by the McCann couple’s lawyer, Isabel Duarte, and had been previously denied by the Judge in 2013.
The McCann couple, who had also requested to be heard in court, saw their application being refused as well. Yet they pleaded against that decision to the Appeals court and their request was granted, therefore they were now authorized to be heard in court, which is what takes place after this “introductory” instruction by the lady Judge, Maria Emília de Melo e Castro.
The Judge then added that since Gonçalo Amaral’s former lawyer did not oppose to the ruling - which refused his request to be heard - a new appeal opposing it [the Judge's ruling] could no longer be accepted, and therefore that decision had now become final.
The Judge continues instructing the scribe and states that the authors of the lawsuit - the McCann couple - have requested the court to solicit an official application to ATA [Autoridade Tributária Aduaneira] i.e. the Portuguese equivalent to the IRS, in order to obtain confidential fiscal information.
The Judge Maria Emília de Melo e Castro authorized and ordered for the dispatch to be prepared “since it is essential to know, within the scope of the case being analysed here at the court, what are the eventual earnings” of the defendant Gonçalo Amaral regarding the sales of the book ‘Maddie, A Verdade da Mentira’.
The Judge then added that the court dismissed the need to observe the confidentiality of that fiscal information in view of the fact that “the acquirement of that evidence” is crucial and ruled that the other defendant parties have 10 days to oppose the McCann’s lawyer request. That meant that the hearing session of yesterday's afternoon, where Isabel Duarte was supposed to make her final allegations for a period of three hours was adjourned sine die [without a definite date scheduled] and so was the hearing session of the 10th of July. Due to the judicial holidays it's very likely that the trial will only continue in or after September. The Judge also mentions that in September alterations will be made to the Penal Code Process but those changes will not affect in any way the ongoing trial.
Earlier on this year, the only defendant party opposing the McCann’s fiscal request was the lawyer for the Guerra e Paz book publishers who argued that this new application would cause an unnecessary lengthening of the trial.
Follows Kate Healy and Gerry McCann declarations to court in strict compliance to Portuguese law. A declaration is a series of answers to questions put by the Judge, and of questions from the accusation or/and defendant lawyers.
The couple decided to ask if they could make a further statement at the end of each declaration, these statements will not be considered and will have no reflection on the trial outcome even though they were recorded by the scribe.
On the left side of Kate McCann, sits the lawyer Dr. Miguel Coroadinha, Isabel Duarte's assistant Dr. Ricardo Afonso and Dr. Isabel Duarte. Opposite to the McCann couple's lawyer is the lawyer for VC Filmes, Dr. Henrique Costa Pinto, then Dr. Fátima de Oliveira Esteves, Gonçalo Amaral's new lawyer Dr. Miguel Rodrigues and Dr. Gonçalo Amaral. In the gallery there was a wide range of people, from British journalists, to Mr. Amaral supporters, to the McCanns' entourage.
The Judge tells Kate McCann that she is obliged to speak with truth during her declaration. Kate then promises under oath to tell the truth and the whole truth. The Judge questions her about her name. Kate replies that it is "Kate Healy". The Judge wonders why she doesn't have the name McCann as her last name, she states that she still uses her maiden name. Kate Healy is then asked about her home address, and her employment status to which she replies that she is a "general practitioner" and that she has stopped working since Madeleine was "abducted". The Judge orders Kate Healy to sit down so her declaration can proceed.
Judge - Do you recall when the book was first published and when you first heard about it?
Kate Healy - A few months after it was published.
Judge - Did you read the book and when?
Kate Healy - I first read extracts from the book in media reports and then on the internet around the end of 2008.
Judge - How and what did you feel?
Kate Healy - Devastated, I already had an idea but it made me feel desperate because of the injustice done to my family, to Madeleine. I felt anxious. It damaged our family.
Judge - What sort of damages?
Kate Healy - Mr. Amaral's book stated as fact that we were involved in the disappearance of our daughter and faked an abduction, it attacked us systematically.
Judge - What were the damages in Portugal?
Kate Healy - The book was read by thousands of people, people would believe, due to the author's credibility, that Madeleine was dead and that we were involved. People, neighbours on the street, in coffee shops believed Mr. Amaral. And for us Portugal was the most important place. It was here that Madeleine was taken from us.
Judge - Do you remember a documentary?
Kate Healy - I learned about it through Portuguese friends who watched it on TVI, they texted me saying the documentary was horrible. On the following day they sent me detailed annotations.
Judge - Did you watch the documentary?
Kate Healy - I watched some parts of the documentary on the media and then the full documentary on the net.
Judge - What did you feel about the documentary when compared to the book?
Kate Healy - It was worst in terms of damages, because it was more definitive, Mr. Amaral's assumptions were more unequivocal, it led the audience in a journey of certainties. It compounded to the anxiety and feeling of injustice at a time when we were the only ones making efforts to find Madeleine. There was no police force investigating and it damaged the searches.
Judge - Do you recall an interview that Mr. Amaral gave to Correio da Manhã? [You can read it here, from July 24, 2008]
Kate Healy - He gave several interviews but I do recall one in particular which was exaggerated. Where he said that Madeleine's body had been kept frozen and then taken inside the boot of the car we had rented seven weeks later [sic, car was rented 23 days later].
Judge - How did you learn about that interview?
Kate Healy - Some friends in Portugal sent us the translations, they made summaries of what was published by the Portuguese media.
Judge - When did you learn about that interview?
Kate Healy - Right after the documentary was broadcast.
Judge - What is your impression about what the Portuguese people think of you and your husband regarding this case?
Kate Healy - Most people are against us. The damages were more extensive because Mr. Amaral published his book in various languages and gave interviews.
Judge - What were your feelings regarding that?
Kate Healy - We needed the help and support of the Portuguese. We felt distressed with the negative opinion people had of us. It was stressful.
Judge - You felt ashamed by it?
Kate Healy - That is not the right word for it. People thought that we were bad parents.
Judge - In the thesis presented on the book it is claimed that you hid the body, do you think people thought that you were cowards?
Kate Healy - It was worst than that.
Judge - Do you suffer from insomnia?
Kate Healy - No, not as much as I did in 2008, 2009, because then the efforts that we did were boycotted by Mr. Amaral's book. We were desperate to find Madeleine. I felt that he destroyed our hypotheses.
Judge - Do the twins know about the book and about the documentary?
Kate Healy - They know about them but they don't know the details. They understand why we are here today.
Judge - So they have an idea?
Kate Healy - In October last year my son Sean asked me why did Mr. Amaral said that we had hid Madeleine's body. I told him that Mr. Amaral says many silly things.
Judge - How did he know about that?
Kate Healy - I think he heard it in the radio, in the school bus.
Judge - What have you done to protect the twins?
Kate Healy - We arranged for them to have psychological support, David Trickey a child psychologist told us that we should answer the twins questions with honesty and let them speak about it if they wished to. We also had to make arrangements with their school and supervise the twins access to the internet in school and at home. The book is already very distressing for an adult and it's even worse for a child.
Judge - Were you diagnosed with a clinical depression?
Kate Healy - No. Depression is over-diagnosed, over used term to diagnose those who feel a bit down, clinically I wasn't depressed.
Judge - There is a quote attributed to you - did you ever say that you wished you were in a coma so you wouldn't suffer?
Kate Healy - Yes.
Judge - Did that have to do with the disappearance of your child, or with the book and the documentary?
Kate Healy - Both were overwhelming, but it was intensified when the book was published.
Judge - How old are the twins?
Kate Healy - They are nine years old.
Judge - What year are they at school?
Kate Healy - Fifth grade.
Judge - In what year did they start at school?
Kate Healy - When they were 4 years old at the end of August 2009.
Judge Maria Emília de Melo e Castro allows a question put by Dr. Isabel Duarte - What were the reactions to the book and to the documentary in England?
Kate Healy - The reactions were less negative than in Portugal, due to the newspapers in England who were sued for defamatory articles, those articles weren't based on evidence. We have people that monitor the internet and there are groups of people, like the 'Madeleine Foundation' who have caused us great distress by publishing Mr. Amaral's theories on the internet, which has compounded to our vilification.
Judge - What is the 'Madeleine Foundation'?
Kate Healy - They are a group of people who believes and promotes Mr. Amaral's theories. They even distributed leaflets in our home town at a time when our children were starting school.
Judge - What is the connection between them and the book or the documentary? Did they appear afterwards?
Kate Healy - I think they already existed as a group, the book just added more fuel to the fire. They even invited Mr. Amaral to go to England for a conference, they kept promoting his theories.
Dr. Isabel Duarte - Were there threats?
Judge - [to Isabel Duarte] That is not material to the case being discussed in this court. [rejects the question]
Judge - [to Kate Healy] On the subject of your children, of Sean, where there any repercussions?
Kate Healy - At that time no. The twins ask questions, and following David Trickey's advice we answer their questions only then, instead of giving them information.
Judge - Did Sean speak to you about the case again?
Kate Healy - No, he never spoke again, it was just that one time.
The Judge Maria Emília de Melo e Castro allows a question put by Dr. Miguel Rodrigues - What caused you to feel more distressed - a) The disappearance of your daughter? b) to be constituted as an arguida? c) or the book and the documentary?
Kate Healy - There is nothing worse than loosing a child, and that pain was amplified by both the book and the documentary.
Dr. Miguel Rodrigues - The authors of this lawsuit speak of social destruction. However didn't you have the support of many celebrities? Namely of Angelina Jolie in August 2008? [see article - Jolie’s support to Maddie mum]
Kate Healy - I don't recall Angelina Jolie but we were given support by various celebrities.
Dr. Miguel Rodrigues - Do you recall an event that took place in December 8, 2008 of about twenty thousand people who got together to pray for Madeleine? [see article - Thousands join East Lancashire group's prayers for Madeleine McCann]
Kate Healy - No, I don't remember that. Where did that took place?
Dr. Miguel Rodrigues - In the UK.
Kate Healy - Obviously there are people who have always prayed and will continue to pray for Madeleine.
Dr.Miguel Rodrigues - Did you not receive the support of Missing People UK, when they created a fund raising gala dinner to commemorate the 1,000th days since the disappearance of Madeleine? [see the McCann Files - The 1,000 Day Anniversary Events in January 2010]
Kate Healy - Yes I did.
Judge - Very well, no one else has questions. [To the interpreter] Please tell the lady that she is excused.
Kate Healy - May I say something?
Judge - You may.
Kate Healy - I believe in freedom of expression I don't believe in the freedom to defame.
Judge - Very well. This court will now hold a break of a few minutes and then we will proceed with Mr. Gerald McCann declaration.
Anne Guedes' report hosted kindly by Pamalam for the start of his declaration.
At the end of a 10' pause, the clerk arrived with GMC. He was asked to stand to answer the usual identity questions and commit himself to tell the truth.
Judge – When did you learn that Gonçalo Amaral's book had been published?
GMC says it was in April 2008, a friend sent them translations of media articles.
Judge – The book hadn't been published yet?
GMC – No. He says that the book was introduced in the media before it was published.
Judge – Was it through interviews?
GMC – Yes.
Judge – When was the book published?
GMC says it was published 3 days after the releasing of the AG final report [Note by JM: The prosecutors José de Magalhães e Menezes and João Melchior Gomes co-wrote and signed the archival dispatch on July 21, 2008 which closed the investigation pending new evidence, there was no final report written by the at the time Attorney General Pinto Monteiro].
Judge – When did you have access to the book?
GMC replies that he learnt through the media, particularly the Correio da Manhã, that the book was published. Portuguese friends daily translated for them what the media said.
Judge – Have you read the book entirely?
GMC says that he read translated parts. Only later a translation of the whole book was available.
Judge – When?
GMC – Later in 2008. He adds that he must say that their lawyer Rogério Alves read the book, made a report upon it and then had a discussion with them about it.
Judge – How did you feel?
GMC says that what was said in the media, before he himself read the book, was the cause of much anxiety for him.
Judge – And the book?
GMC says it was shocking. The book is an affront to him, to his wife, to his family and to the people who believe in them.
Judge – How did you feel?
GMC says that he obviously felt anguish, despair and of course anger reckoning that someone so close to the investigation alleges claims without evidence that his missing daughter is unequivocally dead. The most important issue for them was that the book was read by hundreds of thousands of people and widely publicised. That made the people believe in the conclusions, preventing information about Madeleine from being brought up.
Judge – Then the documentary was broadcast?
GMC says that it was even worse then.
Judge – Why?
GMC explains that it states right at the beginning that Madeleine is dead, that there was no abduction, that he and his wife are liars, that they are cold and ruthless enough to hide a body instead of rending assistance. There's no evidence of that and the evidence that the documentary presents doesn't match.
Judge – Have you watched the documentary?
GMC watched it on the Web.
Judge – Have you been feeling the same as with the book?
GMC says it was worst.
Judge – In what way?
GMC says it was horrible to realise that people were watching something that wasn't true. They were working very hard on the investigation, including people in the Algarve who had been brought in to help. The documentary destroyed all the possibilities of obtaining assistance.
Judge - Do you recall an interview Mr. Amaral gave to the Correio da Manhã?
Gerald McCann - I read several interviews that were published in Correio da Manhã and in other newspapers.
Judge - It was an interview published on July 2008. [See Cadaver was frozen or kept in the cold - July 24, 2008]1
Gerald McCann - There were many articles published on a daily basis. May I see the headline?
The Judge allows it and orders the interpreter to translate the header and the first paragraph of the interview.
Interpreter - «'Cadaver was frozen or kept in the cold' Correio da Manhã – As the case investigator, what is your thesis? Gonçalo Amaral – The little girl died in the apartment. Everything is in the book, which is faithful to the investigation until September: it reflects the understanding of the Portuguese and the English police and of the Public Ministry. For all of us, until then, the concealment of the cadaver, the simulation of abduction and the exposure or abandonment were proved.»
Judge - Do you recall it then?
Gerald McCann - Yes, I've read the same in other interviews.
Judge - Did this article had to do with the pressure from the media that you allege?
Gerald McCann - Yes.
Judge - Did you suffer from insomnia?
Gerald McCann - Yes, we didn't sleep well for many nights because of the anxiety caused by the book.
Judge - Do you have any idea about what people thought after reading the book?
Gerald McCann - I can't answer that, only if I knew what people thought before hand.
Judge - Allow me to rephrase that. Do you think that people believed that the thesis in the book was true?
Gerald McCann - When the process was archived there was no evidence to prove that Madeleine was dead, and there was no evidence to prove that we were responsible for the concealment of Madeleine's body. The Portuguese were bombarded with information that we hid the body in the car and that we had staged an abduction, mainly after the book publication.
Judge - What about the English?
Gerald McCann - The book was never published in England because of the legal actions that we took. It wasn't published on the main stream media either. There is however a small minority, a small group who have launched an harassment campaign who use quotes from the book.
Judge - Who are they?
Gerald McCann - They are called the 'Madeleine Foundation' and we were forced, as the last resort, to take legal action against them, specifically against a man named Anthony Bennett.
Judge - What is the connection between the book and the 'Madeleine Foundation?
Gerald McCann - The book was quoted by the 'Madeleine Foundation' on a forum and they have inclusively distributed a leaflet in Rothley titled '60 reasons which suggest that Madeleine McCann was not abducted'. [see article - Accusatory leaflets scare McCanns, August 16, 2009] They have interviewed Mr. Amaral and invited him to meet them in England. This was what led us, after our lawyers had warned him several times, to seek legal action against Anthony Bennett, as a last resort.
Judge - Do you know if the group existed before the book was published?
Gerald McCann - I'm not sure if the book was published before or after.
Judge - Do the twins know about the thesis?
Gerald McCann - We try to be open about it but it worries us that they make questions about Mr. Amaral's allegations since he was the coordinator of the case. Kate told me that Sean had asked her about us hiding Madeleine's body. It worries us that they might hear things from other people.
Judge - What measures have you taken to protect the twins in that instance?
Gerald McCann - We had professional advice by a child psychologist who still advises us today if needed. He gave us a key piece of advice which was to answer the twins questions as honestly as possible, at their age level of understanding. However I am afraid that they might read the horrible things people say about us on the internet.
Judge - How is the coordination with the school?
Gerald McCann - The school has been very supportive, Kate has handled that with them. As far as I know there were no incidents specifically related with the book.
Judge - Have you ever heard about a book written by Paulo Pereira Cristovão? ['A Estrela de Madeleine' (Madeleine's Star) pub. 2008]
Gerald McCann - Vaguely...
Judge - Have you ever heard about a book written by Manuel Catarino? ['A Culpa dos McCann' (The McCann's Guilt) pub. 2007]
Gerald McCann - I can't say I have no. I don't remember that name.
Judge - Have you ever heard about a book written by Hernâni Carvalho? ['Maddie 129' pub. 2007]
Gerald McCann - I know about Mr. Carvalho's comments in the press about Mr. Amaral's book.
Judge - But you never read the book?
Gerald McCann - No, I haven't.
The Judge Maria Emília de Melo e Castro asks each lawyer if they have any questions to put to Gerry McCann, only Dr. Miguel Rodrigues has a question, replicating the one he had previously asked Kate Healy.
Miguel Rodrigues - What caused you to feel more distressed - a) The disappearance of your daughter? b) to be constituted as an arguido? c) or the book and the documentary?
Gerald McCann - They all happened at different times, obviously the abduction of a child is devastating but the book intensified that feeling.
Judge - Very well. [prepares to conclude the hearing session]
Gerald McCann - Can I make a statement?
Judge - The statements in the Portuguese court system, unlike in England where people can give extemporaneous statements [see VPS], are the declarations, which consist on a series of questions put by the lawyers and judge and by the answers of the deponent, which you just gave. You can say something but it won't have any legal validity, nevertheless it will still be recorded.
Gerald McCann - I want to speak about the sniffer dogs. They never alerted to any blood in the car and they never alerted to cadaver odour...
Judge - [interrupts] We are not here to ascertain that, our perspective here in this court is to analyse your claim.
Gerald McCann - But the book states that as a fact!
Judge - To decide that there are already forensic experts. We are not here to prove if the contents of the book are truthful or not. Here we are only trying to establish if the freedom of expression of the defendants has affected the rights of the claimants. This court cannot be a substitute of the criminal investigation. [Turns to the interpreter] Tell the gentleman that he is excused.
Note 1 - Amended since on my handwritten notes I have the interpreter reading out-loud an extract of a question of the Correio da Manhã journalist to Gonçalo Amaral "What is your thesis?", question which only appears on the 24th July 2008 interview and not on the 22nd July 2008 article which publishes Gonçalo Amaral's book extracts in exclusive, that was published in a link at Anne Guedes report and reproduced here without proper verification. My apologies.