Child hunt chaos

Child hunt chaos
Northern Territory News/Sunday Territorian
13 June 2007

Police investigator facing charges

LONDON: The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is in chaos after the detective co-ordinating the hunt for her abductor was charged yesterday with criminal offences over another notorious missing child case.

As British couple Kate and Gerry McCann arrived in Morocco for the final leg of their publicity campaign to find their four-year-old daughter, Goncalo Amaral and four other Portuguese police officers were charged with offences relating to the inquiry into the disappearance of Joana Cipriano from a village 11km from where Madeleine was abducted.

Nine-year-old Joana has not been seen since her disappearance three years ago but her mother and uncle were convicted of murdering and dismembering her because she caught them having an incestuous relationship.

Joana's mother, Leonor, has alleged that she was beaten into a confession during a police interrogation that took place without her lawyer or the knowledge of the public prosecutor.

Portugal's Ministerio Publico, the public prosecutor, confirmed yesterday it had charged three officers with torture, a fourth with omission of evidence and a fifth with falsifying documents.

Despite the charges, Mr Amaral, the co-ordinator of the Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, has not been suspended from working on the 39-day-old Madeleine investigation.

The Foreign Office told the McCanns of the charges yesterday.

A family spokesman said:
"They do not remember meeting Goncalo Amaral face to face but naturally they were concerned."
Police sources said Mr Amaral was "very angry" about the allegations and was considering taking action against the Ministerio Publico. "He is very professional and has had a lot of success in solving cases," one said.

The McCanns were due to meet the Moroccan Interior Minister last night.

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