Senior police under suspicion

Senior police under suspicion - Maddie cops face torture investigation
The Madeleine Mystery
David Rose
17 September 2007
Daily Telegraph

The senior detective jointly in charge of the investigation into the Madeleine McCann disappearance is to face a criminal hearing into an alleged cover-up involving another missing girl.

Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral has been accused of concealing evidence that the mother of eight-year-old Joana Cipriano, who disappeared in the Algarve three years ago, was tortured by police into confessing she had killed her daughter.

The senior officer, who heads the Policia Judiciaria in Portimao, the nearest Portuguese town to Praia da Luz from where Madeleine vanished, could appear before the secret hearing as early as next month.

The revelation casts further doubt on the Portuguese police, who have faced increasing criticism about their handling of the McCann case.

In a separate development, Britain's Mail on Sunday revealed yesterday that fragments of hair found in the McCann's hire car, said to belong to Madeleine, cannot be matched to the missing four-year-old.  Sources close to the scientists investigating the case say they have concluded the hair could belong to any number of people.  This undermines earlier claims that DNA evidence proved the McCanns used the car to move their daughter's body.

The leaking of these original claims fuelled fears Portuguese police were conducting a smear campaign against Kate and Gerry McCann as they faced increasing pressure for results.

Insp Amaral has been accused of concealing evidence into allegations that three of his colleagues tortured the mother of missing Joana Cipriano in order to secure a confession.

Leonor Cipriano did confess, after almost 48 hours of continuous interrogation but later retracted her statement. She was convicted of murdering her daughter and is now serving a 16-year jail term.

The four detectives, plus a fifth accused of fabricating evidence, deny the allegations and say injuries Cipriano sustained them when she threw herself down police station stairs.

Insp Amaral is not the only accused officer linked to the McCann investigation. Another is recently retired chief inspector Paulo Pereira Cristovao, who has been writing a daily column on the Madeleine inquiry for a Portuguese newspaper that has been reporting sensational stories, leaked by sources close to the police.

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