Police chief quizzed over torture of mother

Police chief quizzed over torture of mother
David Pilditch
11 June 2007
The Daily Express

Leonor Cipriano allegations
  • Five officers accused of torturing confession from Leonor Cipriano
    • Three officers accused of torturing Cipriano
    • One officer accused of failing to stop attack
    • One officer alleged to have falsified documents
    • attack allegedly occured in 2004
    • Goncalo Amaral one of the accused
    • Amaral insisted he was innocent of charges and was considering legal action against public prosecutor's office
    • The McCanns were aware of the allegations
    • police failed to seal off Cipriano house
    • Joana's body never found
    • Leonor Cipriano and her brother Joao were convicted of killing Joana and jailed for 16 years and 8 months
    • Leonor later lodged formal complaint claiming police beat her into confession during the interview
    • prison photos show bruises on her face and body
  • police trade union
    • claimed injuries caused when Cipriano fell downstairs
[Note: in May 2009, the three PJ officers were cleared of torture, but Amaral was convicted of falsifying documents and  Nunes Cardoso was convicted of falsifying evidence. Amaral has appealed the ruling. See: Joana Morais Blog:  Detectives Hired by the McCanns want to Frame Gonçalo Amaral ]


A senior police officer investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been charged over a violent attack on the mother of another missing girl. Yesterday it was revealed that Goncalo Amaral is one of five officers formally accused of torturing a confession from Leonor Cipriano. She is alleged to have been assaulted after her nine-year-old daughter, Joana, disappeared in September 2004. Joana vanished in the village of Figueira, just seven miles from Praia da Luz where Madeleine was snatched from her bed on May 3. The investigation was surrounded in controversy.

In echoes of Madeleine's case, the hunt for Joana got off to a false start when police failed to seal off the house where she was last seen. In the meantime, hundreds of police and friends of the family had trampled over the crime scene. Joana's body was never found but her mother and uncle, Joao, were later convicted of killing her and jailed for 16 years and eight months. Leonor later claimed that police beat a confession out of her while she was being interrogated over her daughter's apparent abduction. Photographs taken by prison guards are said to show her face and body covered in bruises. Mrs Cipriano alleged that she had been punched and kicked during the interview, which took place without the presence of a lawyer and without the public prosecutor's knowledge. She lodged a formal complaint which was followed up by the public prosecutor's office.

The police trade union later claimed the injuries had been caused when Mrs Cipriano fell downstairs. Yesterday it emerged that Amaral, head of Portugal's Judicial Police in the Algarve district of Portimao, is one of five senior officers who have been formally accused. Three have been accused of torturing Mrs Cipriano. A fourth is accused of failing to stop the attack while the fifth is alleged to have falsified documents relating to the case. Amaral has been made an arguido or suspect - the same status Briton Robert Murat was given after being questioned over Madeleine's disappearance.

Amaral, who was heading the Cipriano investigation, confirmed yesterday that he had been implicated in the case but insisted he was innocent. He was said to be "very angry" over the allegations and considering legal action against the public prosecutor's office. Despite the seriousness of the accusation Amaral, who is in his forties, has not been suspended and continues to co-ordinate the hunt for Madeleine.

A spokesman for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, said the couple were aware of the allegations. They faced fresh heartache yesterday after a mystery phone caller who had raised their hopes of finding Madeleine was exposed as a conman. The McCanns had hoped the call might provide a vital breakthrough but it turned out to be a hoax. The call was made to Spanish police by a man using an Argentinian mobile phone who told them that he knew where Madeleine was being held. Their flight from Berlin to Amsterdam was delayed for three hours last week as efforts were made to re-establish contact with the caller. But police have now traced the call to a "career criminal" based in the city of Cordoba in Argentina. Police sources disclosed he had been trying to extort £500,000 from the Find Madeleine fund and he did not have the resources to have organised her kidnapping.

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors