Madeleine case officer demoted

Madeleine case officer demoted
3 October 2007
Irish Times
Paul Hamilos in Madrid and Brendan de Beer in Portimao

The Portuguese detective heading the investigation into the disappearance of the British child Madeleine McCann was removed from the case yesterday and demoted from his post as chief of police in Portimao after an outspoken attack on his British counterparts.

Insp Goncalo Amaral has been transferred to the nearby Algarve city of Faro after criticising the British police in a leading Portuguese newspaper.

Mr Amaral (47) has been a controversial figure from the outset of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine on May 3rd from an apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz, where she was on holiday with her parents.

Mr Amaral had become a target for criticism in the British press; he has reportedly investigated only two child murders in his 26-year police career. He also faces a criminal hearing for allegedly concealing evidence after a woman jailed for the murder of her daughter claimed his officers beat her into confessing.

Yesterday, in an interview with the respected Diario de Noticias, Mr Amaral accused British detectives of investigating only those leads that Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, wanted following up. "[ The British police] have only investigated tips and information developed and worked on for the McCanns, forgetting that the couple are suspects in the death of their daughter Madeleine."

Mr Amaral criticised the British police decision to investigate an anonymous tip-off e-mailed to Prince Charles's website claiming Madeleine was abducted by a former employee of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, where the McCanns were staying when she disappeared.

Mr Amaral said the lead "has no credibility for the Portuguese police". National police director Alipio Ribeiro confirmed that Mr Amaral had been removed from the case and demoted, saying it was a "decision I took myself".

Mr Amaral still faces scrutiny over the case of Joana Cipriano (8), who disappeared from Figueira, not far from Praia da Luz, three years ago. Joana's mother, Leonor, was jailed for 16 years, even though her daughter's body has never been found and she retracted her confession. Mr Amaral was not present at her alleged beating but is accused of covering up for his colleagues, which he strenuously denies.

The British media criticised Mr Amaral for allegedly working 4½-hour days, enjoying "boozy lunches" and not investigating tip-offs.

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