Police in Maddie case face charge

Police in Maddie case face charge
Caroline Gammell
11 June 2007
Birmingham Post

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 charged and convicted of her murder. She went missing from 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 has 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.

Meanwhile, 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 delayed flying from Berlin to Amsterdam 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 one million US dollars (£500,000) for the information. 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 travelled to the Moroccan capital of Rabat for a series of meetings and a news conference to appeal for information.

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