Good riddance

Good riddance
4 October 2007
The Sun
Sharon Hendry

He was boozy, incompetent and convinced the McCanns killed we say to sacked police chief Amaral:

HE'S the crumpled copper who looks like a seedy character from a bad detective movie.

But to Madeleine McCann's family, tubby, hard-drinking police chief Goncalo Amaral is a real-life villain.

While supposedly hunting for a child-snatcher, the hapless plod was working as few as four-and-a-half hours a day.

It seems he spent most of that time conjuring up countless malicious explanations for Madeleine's disappearance.

His theory is that she died at the hands of parents Gerry and Kate.

The couple, from Rothley, Leics, will no doubt find a grim satisfaction in the news that Amaral has been removed from the case.

Most of all, they will hope his successor -when the Portuguese do get round to appointing one -can rally a demoralised force, break the case and find their daughter.

Amaral has been demoted a rank -down to inspector -and stripped of his role as regional head of the Policia Judiciaria (PJ).

The shock announcement came on his 48th birthday, after he accused British police of shielding the McCanns.

He had become an embarrassment to his government and once source said of his latest wild claim: "It was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Finding Madeleine alive was never a priority for Amaral after he became obsessed by the notion that Gerry and Kate had disposed of her body.

Amaral, in charge of a squad of 30 detectives, consistently refused to comment on his theories which still make the McCanns official suspects "arguidos" in the case.

He continually waved reporters away with a swing of his thick-set arm, citing Portugal's strict judicial secrecy rules for his silence.

"No speak! No speak!" was his standard riposte.

Nor would he discuss the 252 possible tip-offs about Madeleine's disappearance - many of which had allegedly not been followed.

His colourful conjecture could regularly be heard at coffee shops and restaurants near Amaral's office in the seaside town of Portimao, 20 minutes from Praia de Luz, where the McCanns stayed.

The moustached detective could usually be found chugging coffee and scoffing cakes at the Kalahary cafe or lingering over lunch at Carvi. He preferred these establishments to the stuffy confines of his HQ, where the McCanns were recently questioned for ten hours.

Most days would see him swagger up to his favourite Carvi table wearing a creased white shirt, unbuttoned to the chest, where a gleaming gold cross dangled.

On one occasion, the dad-of-three was overheard hammering home his theories to Portuguese racing driver Pedro Lamy. He told him: "The police case is we are sure the parents killed Madeleine.


"They are both doctors and know about drugs. We are confident in our case."

On another occasion Amaral was at Carvi with the PJ spokesman Olegario Sousa. The McCanns were in Berlin and Amsterdam appealing for help in the hunt for Maddie and they were shown on the TV in the restaurant. The two men asked for the TV to be turned up before mocking the harried parents.

A booze-fuelled lunchtime, featuring white wine and his favourite Sagres lager, would often soon be followed by Amaral driving home in his blue Volvo.

Sources close to the investigation said his hackles were raised from the start by Mr and Mrs McCann's proactive approach to their daughter's disappearance.

One lawyer, who does not wish to be named, said: "Gerry is someone who clearly likes to get things done quickly and professionally.

"Amaral felt he was taking over, belittling him. It agitated him."

A PR war between the two camps erupted with Amaral leaking so-called "leads" to Portuguese newspapers. In particular, slurs on Kate McCann's character began to appear -she found her children "hyperactive" and hard to handle was a typical example.

Another source close to the investigation said: "It seems the main goal of the PJ now is to get a confession. It's like in the films, 'Aha, we have a confession, let's take them to court'. It's normal to want a confession when they don't have much else."

The McCanns fought back with their own public relations team.

Amaral has been a controversial figure during the search for Madeleine.

Astonishingly, he was put in charge of the day-to-day running of the inquiry despite himself being an "arguido" -after being accused of helping to cover-up an alleged assault on the mother of another missing girl.


He is to face a criminal hearing for allegedly concealing evidence that three colleagues tortured Leonor Cipriano to make her confess that she murdered her daughter Joana, nine, who went missing from Portimao three years ago.

Cipriano is serving 16 years for killing Joana, even though no body was ever found and she soon retracted her statement.

Amaral was not present at the time of her alleged beating but is accused of covering up for his colleagues, which he denies. He has reportedly investigated only two child murders -even though his police career spans 26 years.

He joined in 1981 after leaving an engineering course at university in Coimbra.

He did courses in sociology, psychology, psychiatry and criminal investigation at police school in Lisbon. Then he studied law.

He had only been in the police three years when he went to work in Madrid where he had his first contact with Spanish police and worked in Spain on several occasions.

He rose to the rank of chief inspector in 1998. Previous investigations include the case of a man who kicked his daughter to death in the Azores -and the infamous Joana case.

In 2005 he based himself in Seville to investigate the murder of a Portuguese policeman.

Like the McCanns, he is a Catholic and can regularly be found reading the bible.

He likes to quote it.

He will no doubt be seeking solace in those words this week as his career lies in tatters.

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