by Domingos Amaral*
Now that the Maddie case has been archived by the Public Ministry due to a lack of evidence; now that the process has been opened for public consultation; and now that the PJ inspector who coordinated the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral, has already published a book about the issue, it has become possible to list my conclusions about the case. Here they are:
1 – Contrary to what was suggested by the British press, which presented him as a negligent policeman who spent his life in long lunches, washed down with plenty of wine, and with little investigative capacity, the impression that I got from Gonçalo Amaral, both from the tv interviews and from reading the book, is that he coordinated a competent investigation, that followed the rules, that was neither biased nor tendentious, and that he did everything to crack the case.
2 – All the evidence that was collected by the PJ pointed, right from the first days onward, to the little girl’s death inside the apartment and the subsequent concealment of the cadaver, probably by her parents.
3 – The indicia that was collected, both from witnesses, and later from the DNA tests, pointed into that same direction.
4 – The behaviour of the little girl’s parents’ friends is very strange. There are contradictory depositions that seem to have been “built” to lead the PJ into the direction of the abduction theory. On the other hand, the fact that all of the friends abandoned Portugal in a hurry is extremely disturbing.
5 – The manner in which the little girl’s parents behave, speaking to Sky News on the same day and transforming the case into a media event, obviously forcing the abduction theory, is extremely surprising. It does not seem normal to me that a father and a mother, when confronted with the disappearance of a daughter, establish as their first and only priority to transform the case into a worldwide media event.
6 – Since the first hour, the English press accepted the abduction theory, which was communicated to them by the parents, without judgment. Like a brainless flock, they fell on Praia da Luz exercising enormous pressure on the PJ, suggesting that Portugal is a third world country, and complicating the investigation. We remember that it was an English journalist that “invented” the suspicions about Robert Murat, thus forcing the PJ to investigate him and to waste time with a situation that was lateral, but which suited the parents’ purpose.
7 – The fact that the little girl’s father is a personal friend to Prime Minister Gordon Brown led to the English government making available to the parents, media specialists who built and forced the abduction theory. It was a highly professional operation that used sophisticated marketing techniques, in the press and on the internet, with meetings with international personalities, which culminated with the visit to the Pope in the Vatican.
8 – This remarkable public campaign was accompanied by a political pressure behind the scenes, with the English government exerting pressure on the Portuguese government, in the direction of the abduction theory.
9 – For many months, it was evident that the PJ had lost the public opinion battle and that it was not prepared to handle a media and political pressure of such proportion. In terms of public communication, the case was very badly managed by the PJ and by the Public Ministry.
10 – Despite these tremendous political and media pressures, the investigation proceeded on the terrain and was approaching important conclusions, which clearly pointed to the parents’ guilt, at least of the crime of cadaver concealment.
All of these conclusions lead me to formulate two questions: Why were the directory of the PJ and the Public Ministry incapable of having the courage to accuse the parents, like the investigation suggested? Was it the Portuguese and the English governments that decided to sabotage the investigation and to let the parents “off the hook”?
Some day the truth will emerge, but for me, and even without bulletproof evidence, a case like this should never have been archived and those parents should be tried in court.
source: Diário Económico, 01.10.2008
*Portuguese journalist and author
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