Gonçalo Amaral’s interview on Agora Nós, RTP1, 23.01.2015
Anchor – Today, our guest is Gonçalo Amaral who was on the news again yesterday because of the lawsuit that the McCann couple filed against him. Good morning, Gonçalo.
Gonçalo Amaral – Good morning.
Anchor – I read in your book that you wrote this book to defend your honour. The first question that I have for you is: Were you in any way attacked by the McCanns before the publication of the book, or even during the investigation? Were you with them, did you question them?
Gonçalo Amaral – That is a very good question. There was indeed a series of attacks, not just directed at me but at the investigation. Those attacks came not only from the parents’ side, but also from their support staff and from journalists, English and even Portuguese. That honour was not only personal but also professional. The investigation was at stake, an investigation that was never defended here in Portugal, namely by someone at the top of the Polícia Judiciária – and it’s me who defends those initial months of the investigation, and that is what the book was published for. That is one of the issues that are raised by the Lisbon Appeals Court, at the time of the injunction, which supports me, and establishes that it was licit for me to write the book.
Anchor – If you don’t mind, let’s return to the start of this story, the McCann case was the most media exposed ever, as far as the alleged abduction of a child, Madeleine McCann, is concerned. This book, “Maddie, A Verdade da Mentira”, that was written by you, why was it so controversial? What does it contain?
Gonçalo Amaral – What it contains is the conclusions of the process, of a report that exists, in September of 2007, which says that at that moment of the investigation, suspicion falls upon the [McCann] couple in terms of an accidental death inside the apartment, neglect in watching over their children that had been abandoned, and the concealment of a corpse. That is in the process and with this decision, which is not a final decision, it is merely a reply to the facts that were at stake during the trial, it agrees that this was in the process.
Anchor – The process is not concluded yet, it is still ongoing –
Gonçalo Amaral – It is still in the lower court, now there will be legal arguments, then there will be a verdict –
Anchor – We are at the stage of replies to the proved facts, is that it?
Gonçalo Amaral – Proved and not proved.
Anchor – Did you question them? Did you meet them?
Gonçalo Amaral – I met them but the questioning was performed by others, by inspectors. A coordinator does not question directly, that was done by the inspectors. But I met them.
Anchor – You accompanied this process from the beginning…
Gonçalo Amaral – I accompanied the process, the investigation from the 3rd of May of 2007 until I left the investigation on the 2nd of October of 2007. I accompanied it, participating in the investigation.
Anchor – And what happened yesterday? What was the accusation –
Gonçalo Amaral – There was no accusation yesterday. Not yesterday, the day before yesterday. What was done is – there is a decision from the magistrate, the judge, saying what is proved and what is not proved. That decision says that it is not proved that I caused the couple any damages, social or psychological or moral damages. So what was being questioned, it’s not the book that causes such damages; they were already destroyed before the book. That is important. It’s important because in this kind of process, what is at stake, contrary to what the couple said, that what was at stake was the investigation, whether they are guilty or not, none of that was being discussed there. What was at stake there was whether or not that book and that documentary could be made, if they were licit or not, if they caused the couple any damages, and whether or not it was possible to establish a causal nexus between the book and the damages. And the indications that are given lead me, and my lawyer, and people who have already read the document, to believe that there may be – there may be – a favourable verdict.
Anchor – There is a contradiction between the news that came out –
Gonçalo Amaral – There is no contradiction. There is complete manipulation of the media.
Anchor – Can you clarify that?
Gonçalo Amaral - Lusa agency, since all of this began, has been taking sides – I wouldn’t say as much as they have taken the side of the couple, but they have taken the side of the couple’s lawyer. So there have been completely false news about me. I remember an article that was published in 2009 or 2010, which mentioned I was going to be tried over torture in a certain case, that I had been accused of torture. I was in Spain at that time and I called, it was already 7 or 8 p.m. and I said “Excuse me, but this is not true. I am being accused of omitting a denunciation and making a false statement, not of torture”. And the reply that I got from the Lusa journalist was that it’s them that make the news, that it was not for me to meddle with their work and that is how it’s been –
Anchor – Even though they were talking about your life.
Gonçalo Amaral – That’s another thing that happened throughout all of these years, not only the five years of this process, but since 2007 they have been rummaging… I don’t know what else there may be.
Anchor – The fact is that concerning the McCann couple, the McCann couple was never formally tried. They were never accused. So in your book we have a contradiction with the law.
Gonçalo Amaral – What is the contradiction? I don’t accuse them. I am nobody, I’m not a magistrate, I’m not the case magistrate to write up an accusation –
Anchor – But you had knowledge, you were part of the investigation –
Gonçalo Amaral – I was a technician, I’m a technician, and like anyone else, I have the right to an opinion. And as a technician, based not only on my professionalism, but also on my knowledge as a technician, I have the right to have a technical opinion. And that book contains a technical opinion, based on facts that are in the process and that the judge says are in the process. Essentially, as is said, they are in the process. Therefore, saying that they were not accused… The process was – when I left there was already a movement to have the case archived. From the moment that they are made arguidos, everything moves to shelve the case. Interest was lost; the interest was to archive the case. And they succeeded in shelving the case. It was in the couple’s interest to have the case archived, and two things happen: The couple does nothing, and they could have done something when there was a shelving, to continue into the instruction [phase] to keep the process going, for the truth to be found. You see, the conclusions that we reached were the conclusions of an investigation. And an investigation, like someone said, is always a zigzagging of the moment. And we might even have reached the end of the investigation –
Anchor – In this case, this investigation was very traumatising, very disorganised…
Gonçalo Amaral – Disorganised, in what way?
Anchor - Because nothing was concluded, so many years later the child’s whereabouts haven’t been found.
Gonçalo Amaral – Because of interferences that took place, without interferences we would have gone further. Have no doubts about that. That is why the process was archived. When the shelving took place, the couple and another person were arguidos. Any one of them could have requested the opening of the instruction and continued the process. None of them did it, the couple because they didn’t want to, they didn’t want to do it, and the other person because he received compensation from the British courts, so he didn’t do it, he was very satisfied, and now it seems that he is an arguido again. This is what happens –
Anchor - We have to ask one last question. The truth is that the McCann couple – and this is a question and not a statement – demanded compensation worth 1.2 million euro from you because of the publication of the book “A Verdade da Mentira”. This book was very controversial because it was also a success. Many people read it –
Anchor – Many copies were sold.
Anchor – Exactly. Many people read it and created their own opinion. Do you think that in some way that opinion drew people away from the possibility of believing in that child’s parents?
Gonçalo Amaral – No, it didn’t, quite the opposite. The book, which was successful in a way that nobody expected – the contract with the editor was even made based on sales targets, 10 thousand books sold would mean a certain percentage and so on – therefore a very normal contract, nobody was thinking about bestsellers or anything like that. What the book brought was more publicity for the case. And people were not drawn away. There are many people who still defend the couple’s thesis. There are other people – those diverging opinions already existed before the book. They already existed practically before the book. What motivates the couple to file the lawsuit of 1.2 million euro may be the money. They have a firm, a firm where they are members of the board, called Madeleine Fund, which is to look for their daughter, but they are members of the board, it’s a firm, it’s not a social association, or social solidarity, it’s a firm, it’s registered in England as a firm. And what they always wanted was to destabilise me. When they went to Oprah’s programme in the United States, they said it, they wrote on their website that they hope that now nobody believes in that person anymore, for this and that –
Anchor – But Gonçalo, they had to defend themselves with the weapons at hand, if they think they are innocent…
Gonçalo Amaral – Indeed they do. I will give you one example. We speak about the book and we speak about the documentary. We forget another detail. In 2009, in January of 2009, I lived in the Algarve and was indicated to run for mayor of Olhão on behalf of the Social Democratic Party [PSD]. And that alerted that family, that situation of destabilising me, and Mr Gerald McCann came to Lisbon, there’s news from that time, he met with a top political official from PSD who has a French surname, with Dr Rogério Alves and with Dr Isabel Duarte – this is what is said, it’s what was published – and what happened then was that PSD gave me up as a candidate. This puts rights at stake, the rights of a citizen, the rights of a Portuguese citizen, and someone comes from the outside to do it. It’s the right to be elected. And this is when they start thinking about the lawsuit. It’s not about what is in the book, what is in the documentary, because what the book and the documentary contain is what is in the process. They contain technical opinions. And it’s the fear of that issue – when they come over here and put the right to be elected at stake, with the acquiescence of people inside PSD, that this happened.
Anchor – Thank you very much, Gonçalo. Our time is short but this is a subject that we would like to discuss in more depth. We will continue to follow this because the process is still in its early stages.
Gonçalo Amaral – There is no motive to get too excited, but it’s a good indication of what may be the decision.
Anchor – Thank you for joining us today.
Watch the interview on RTP1's website - starts at 22:43.