Madeleine officer accused of assault

Madeleine officer accused of assault
Liverpool Daily Post
11 June 2007
Caroline Gammell, Daily Post Correspondent

Police charged over alleged attack on mother who killed daughter

A SENIOR Portuguese police officer working on the Madeleine McCann case has been charged over an attack on the mother of another missing girl, it was revealed yesterday.

Goncalo Amaral, co-ordinator of the Policia Judiciara in Portimao, Algarve, is one of five men accused of "scenes of aggression" against Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter, Joana, disappeared in September, 2004.

The little girl's body has never been found but Cipriano and her brother, Joao, were convicted of her murder.

She went missing from her home in Figueira, not far from where four-year-old Madeleine was abducted in Praia da Luz 38 days ago.

The alleged attack on Cipriano occurred when she was questioned over Joana's apparent abduction.

It is claimed the suspect was left with bruises all over her face and body, according to local newspaper Jornal de Noticias.

The Ministerio Publico (MP), or District Attorney, charged three PJ officers with torture, a fourth with omission of evidence and a fifth with falsification of documents.

The MP did not reveal who had been charged with what offence.

Police sources said Mr Amaral was "very angry" about the allegations and was considering taking action against the MP.

"He is very professional and has had a lot of success in solving cases," the source said.

"He is very upset because reporters never speak of these successes."

Mr Amaral was charged in the Algarve, while the other four were charged in Lisbon.

It is alleged that the beating took place as Cipriano was questioned without a lawyer, according to the Portuguese Expresso newspaper.

She lodged a formal complaint about her treatment which was followed up by the MP.

Despite the charges, Mr Amaral, who is in his late 40s, is not thought to have been suspended from work.

A spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry said the couple had been made aware of the allegations.

Hopes of a breakthrough in the hunt for the four-year-old were dashed when a potentially significant phone call received earlier in the week was dismissed as a hoax.

The call to Spanish police, received from an Argentinian pay as you go mobile phone, claimed to know where Madeleine was.

It was deemed so significant Mr and Mrs McCann suspended their search of Europe to investigate its authenticity.

They delayed flying from Berlin to Amsterdam by three hours and even considered going back to the UK to speak to specialists about the caller.

But he was dismissed as a professional thief from Cordoba in Argentina. It emerged that he had asked the couple for EURlm (£500,000) for the information.

A source close to the family said: "He was dismissed as a conman who was just trying it on basically. They delayed their flight for that."

With no new breakthrough, Mr and Mrs McCann embarked on the last of their visits to other countries to raise the profile of Madeleine's case.

They will travel to the Moroccan capital of Rabat for meetings and a news conference to appeal for information.

The north African country has repeatedly surfaced in the hunt for their daughter, with a sighting of a young girl at a petrol station in Marrakesh. Mari Pollard said she saw a small blonde girl on May 9, six days after Madeleine was taken, with a man who did not look like her father, asking to see her mother.

Mrs Pollard, a Norwegian who lives in Spain with her English husband Ray said the Spanish, Portuguese and British police were not initially interested in what she had seen.

She said she gave a description to police but has yet to be interviewed face to face.

She saw the little girl as she returned from a holiday in Marrakesh.

Morocco is just 35 minutes from Spain by ferry and Mrs McCann, 38, was particularly keen to go there. She said she felt its proximity to Spain and Portugal made it an important place to visit.

Mr McCann, 39, said he was finding it increasingly hard to control his feelings: "In the first few weeks when I slipped into dark moments of despair I was finding it quite easy to emotionally switch a light back on, but I've been finding it increasingly difficult to do.

"More importantly, I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be able to grieve and let those emotions out."

He said they felt they had covered the main countries where appeals might help but now it was time for a break.

"We'll still meet with the Portuguese police as we have done fairly regularly and with the British police. But it is definitely going to be a period of reflection."

The couple plan to stay in the Algarve at least until the end of the summer or Madeleine is found.

They are expected to move out of the Mark Warner Ocean Club resort next week to more permanent housing.

The apartment where Madeleine was abducted has been cleaned for the first time since she was taken and the police cordons removed.

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