"The McCanns are parents who have lost their daughter, whom they loved very much and I understand their pain and anguish” says Gonçalo Amaral.
The ex inspector from the PJ presents “Maddie, the truth of the lie”, an account of the investigation with the most media coverage of recent times.
Gonçalo Amaral, ex inspector from the PJ coordinated the investigation into the “Maddie case” for the first five months. Now he has presented a book about his experience in the case. 14 months after the disappearance, the investigation was archived with revealing the main question: Where is Maddie?
“Maddie, the truth of the lie”. That is the title that Gonçalo Amaral, ex inspector of the PJ and coordinator of the investigation into the “Madeleine case” during the first five months, has chosen in order to reveal how the search for the little Madeleine McCann who disappeared on 3rd May 2007 from the Algarve, was carried out.
The text summarises the doubts, facts and the questions of an unprecedented investigation. Fourteen months after the disappearance all suspicion has been lifted from Kate and Gerry McCann, the child’s parents, and the case has been filed, but little Madeleine is still missing.
Gonçalo is a tall and corpulent man, as we could imagine of a police officer who has worked against crime for more than twenty five years and who, for the first five months bore the weight of the investigation with most media coverage of recent times, the disappearance of Maddie. Yesterday Gonçalo presented the book in Madrid, surrounded by a large media expectation and made room in his agenda to talk to Hola.com.
Q: The disappearance of Madeleine has been one of the most followed cases followed by the press in the world. Now you have decided to publish a book about the investigation, was there anything left to say?
I decided to write the book to defend our dignity. Part of the British press and even the McCann couple has defamed my name and that of the PJ in Portugal, I requested authorisation to speak but I never obtained it, which is why I decided to write the book.
Q: What relationship do you have with the McCann couple?
I was the head of the department investigating the case within the PJ in Portimao. I was responsible for organising the work of the investigation and ensuring myself of following the direction of the investigation, and therefore I was with the couple once or twice as well as with all the witnesses and with inspectors working on the case. I do not want to discuss publicly with the McCanns, they have lost a daughter. Neither I, nor the parents are of interest, the only victim here is the little girl.
Q: We are obliged to ask this question. Do you know what happened to Madeleine?
Madeleine died in the apartment on the night of the disappearance. It is complicated to be sure how she died because there are many indications. What is certain is that the girl woke up, the girl has disappeared and that behind the sofa there was cadaver odour and human blood.
Q: You state that the girl fell from the sofa, they found her and that her father took her to the beach.
Yes. There are witnesses who claim to be 80% sure that Madeleine’s father was the person who was carrying a covered child towards the beach, in the apartment cadaver odour and the girl’s blood were found as well as in a car rented twenty three days later. In the apartment there was a sofa next to a window, at a height of three or four metres from street level and which did not close properly. The sofa appears to have been pushed towards the wall again, as can be seen by the photos. What could have happened? That the girl woke up during the night, went to the window in order to look towards the restaurant where her parents were dining and could have fallen.
Q: The book says that the witness statements from the couple and their friends are contradictory. Is it not normal for there to be some confusion during these moments of tension?
There are contradictions that are not possible in material terms. For example, the mother speaks of an open window (when she discovered the little girl to be missing) and I wonder how it can be that the witnesses responsible for checking on the children, who passed by the window, at a distance of only two metres, and who entered Madeleine’s room, said that they saw the window was closed. If events had occurred according to the first version, the window should already have been open. There are many contradictions that lack truth. If one reads a summary of the movements told by these persons, there are things that are not certain.
Q: How is it possible that the first examination of the site, carried out by the technical police, was not sufficiently rigorous in order to provide conclusive evidence?
Unfortunately this is something that can happen. The first police officers who went to the site thought of a possible abduction as well as theft, they did not find any door or window that had been forced, they searched for finger prints from people unrelated to the apartment and witness statements from people who could have seen something in the street. It did not occur to them that the parents could have had anything to do with the girl’s disappearance.
Q: Did you think from the beginning that this was not an abduction?
It is not normal that someone should insist and be determined that this was an abduction without considering another option. When a child disappears, one thinks she could have escaped and many other hypotheses. And the contradictions from all of them, lead one to think that something totally different happened. We worked on the abduction theory for two or three months and then we began to think about the theory of death.
Q: The police continued maintaining the abduction theory after considering that the girl was dead. Why?
The parents spoke of the abduction as a necessity. There was no security for the children because if there had been Maddie would not have disappeared. And the abduction theory was dropped when it was proved that it could not be based upon the open window.
Q: In the book you state that even Kate, the young girl’s mother, at one moment assumed the death of her daughter. Let’s talk of this moment.
Yes. As is mentioned in the files, once the entire world had been upturned with the search for the child, Kate received a disturbing email from a woman who claimed to have powers. This woman said that she had had a premonition according to which, Madeleine’s body was in a sewer in Praia da Luz. At that moment, Kate believed in the premonition and a search for the little girl was made. Kate began to act as though she were assuming that Madeleine had died; she even contracted a former South African Colonel who could locate the girl’s body using a machine that searches for atoms. The man participated in the search, but without success. There were many psychics who wanted to contribute. However, at that time Kate returned to her thesis that the small girl had been abducted.
Q: More polemic evidence. The dogs detected cadaver and blood odour, bu these conclusions were not admitted as official evidence. What credibility does dog tracking have in police investigations?
In England it has much legal value, as in the States, but not in Portugal. Its credibility has been undervalued, it has been said that dogs obey the trainer’s voice. But they found cadaver odour and human blood that coincided with Madeleine’s blood and although it was not admitted as material evidence, it did serve as information for the police.
Q: The consideration of Kate and Gerry as suspects was very polemic. However, in your book you say that the status of “arguido” brings with it the right to silence, or that of non self-incrimination, something advantageous for any person being interrogated. The press understood it as an attack.
They were considered “arguidos” on the moment when the evidence indicated that they Could have committed a crime. “Arguido” is not the same status as “accused” in Spain, it is a status that provides the rights to defend oneself and remain silent, and often serves in order to exculpate them later. If one speaks as a witness, one is obliged to speak of everything that happened, and therefore there are things that could make you culpable.
Q: The media has placed an important role in this case. Has all this media expectation helped to find the girl?
No. In my opinion, justice is done in silence. And with all this noise, it is very difficult. I say : who is interested in all this publicity? All the “sightings” of the girl around the world? Does this help to keep her alive? No, they would kill her. And the parents do not want their daughter to die, so why do they publicize the sightings? Because they know the girl is dead. Otherwise they would not do it.
Q: But, how can parents maintain the abduction theory of their small daughter, if they know what really happened to her?
It is a way of moving forward, of surviving. It is like a snowball that keeps growing in size. With everything that they have stirred, with the financial fund they created, how can they step backwards and say that she died? It is not a case of coldness but of survival. But the police investigation was also centred from the start on the principle that Maddie was alive. In effect, and all those sightings that were made public were not beneficial to the girl. If she were alive and not dead as we think, what would all this publicity do to the girl?
Q: How did you experience the search for Maddie? Has this case affected you?
There have been some very difficult moments. My family has suffered much, my wife and my daughters… I kept them away from the press and concentrated on the case. In September, when school started, they left our city for Portimao in order to be closer to me but they had to go back. The press followed us and tried to find out where we lived. It is only now that it is known who they were, now that I have decided to publish the book.
Q: Can we learn anything from such a tragic case as the story or poor Maddie?
Unfortunately for the girl, her case has served as a study case. Before I left the police force, on 30th July of this year, a commission had already been set up in order to establish a better way of dealing with this kind of situation.
Q: You have entitled the book “The truth of the lie”. What is the big lie in this story?
The truth of the lie is what we call the material truth, the pure truth. The truths are the analyses, the procedures and the mechanism that are covered in the case. The lie, or in other words, the lack of truth, is that the girl is alive. The girl is dead. The McCanns are parents who have lost a daughter whom they surely loved very much and I understand their pain and anguish.
Q: Do you believe that we will know what happened to Maddie one day? Will we get to know the truth?
Yes. There were nine people in this Holiday Group. Maybe they do not know that the girl is dead, but they could have received instructions about what to say, such as “you went to the room and you saw the girl”, however they know that this is not true. By that means the case could be re-opened; one day the full truth could be known.
Translation of complete article from Hola 12-09-2008.
Discussion at The 3 Arguido's here