Axed detective was controversial figure in Madeleine inquiry

Axed detective was controversial figure in Madeleine inquiry
3 October 2007
02:07 AM
Press Association National Newswire

Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral, who has been removed from the Madeleine McCann inquiry, was a controversial figure at the centre of the investigation.

There was concern when it emerged in June that he had been charged over an alleged attack on the mother of another missing girl.

The coordinator 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 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 Cipriano happened when she was questioned over Joana's apparent abduction.

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.

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 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.

Mr Amaral was also forced to defend taking a two-hour lunch break.

He was spotted with PJ spokesman Olegario Sousa at a fish restaurant in Portimao 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. That is normal to do.

'The persons are in charge in the day, they are working in the day but they must eat and drink - it is normal. I drink what I want to drink when I can drink.''

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