Detective in charge faces claims of assaulting female suspect

Detective in charge faces claims of assaulting female suspect
8 September 2007
Yorkshire Post

Kate McCann's naming as a suspect in her daughter Madeleine's disappearance comes after the detective leading the investigation was charged over an alleged attack on the mother of another missing girl.

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

The little girl's body was never found but Mrs Cipriano and her brother, Joao, were charged and 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, on May 3.

It is claimed the attack on Mrs Cipriano happened when she was questioned over Joana's apparent abduction.

The Ministerio Publico (MP), or District Attorney, charged three PJ officers in June 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.

Mr Amaral was "very angry" about the allegations and was considering taking action against the MP, according to a police source.

"He is very professional and has a lot of success in solving cases," the source said. "He is very upset because reporters never speak of these successes."

A Portuguese newspaper reported claims that the beating took place as Mrs Cipriano was questioned without a lawyer. 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, was not suspended from work.

News of the charges came as Mr Amaral was forced to defend his taking a two-hour lunch break. He was spotted with PJ spokesman Olegario Sousa at a fish restaurant in Portimao, near Praia da Luz, as the McCanns travelled to Berlin and Amsterdam to appeal for more information about their missing daughter. A diner said he spotted them drinking what looked like white wine and whisky. Asked if it was acceptable for police to drink alcohol in their lunch time, Mr Sousa said: "I don't know, it is very, very sad but a person's free time is for lunch."

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