Much was made during the week about Kate and Gerry McCann being named as arguidos, or official suspects.
Before that, you might recall, the Portuguese police declared a totally innocent man, Robert Murat to be an arguido, on the clever policing insight that he’s separated and has a daughter of his own back in England, and therefore more than likely kidnapped Madeleine. Obviously.
But guess who else is an arguido? Well, that would be Mr Goncalo Amaral, a senior policeman working on the McCann case, who is also an arguido as are four of his colleagues. Or, to be more precise, he was an arguido, but now that he’s been charged, he’s gone beyond that.
They just love their arguidos over there in Portugal. Policing, you see, in a country like Portugal, isn’t quite the same as policing here, in spite of all I’ve said about our cops. The reason? Well, Portugal was a military dictatorship until about thirty years ago, and you would never want to forget that. The people at the top of the Portuguese police are the same people who served as base-level policemen under the Junta, and police-state practices don’t disappear overnight. Thirty years is but an eyeblink in the life of a nation.
Here’s Mr Amaral.
The case he’s being investigated for involves the disappearance of a child in 2004, seven miles from Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing. The missing girl’s mother, Leonor Cipriano was questioned by Mr Amaral and his colleagues about the abduction of her daughter, and in this case, the police saw no need to have a lawyer present during the interrogation.
The interview went well and Ms Cipriano confessed under the inescapable logic and forensic questioning of these fine officers. Clearly, since Ms Cipriano was a local person, and without much money, they felt they could be a little more direct with their questioning.
Here’s Ms Cipriano after the interview:
Now Portuguese law, as we’ve all been assured over the past few months, is very exact and precise, but also very, very fair. This is why it was possible to convict Ms Cipriano of murder, though no body was found, and at the same time to charge Mr Amaral and his four colleagues variously with torture, omission of evidence and falsification of evidence.
Isn’t that good? Wouldn’t you have great faith in such people and such a system?
Wouldn’t you believe every word they leak to the the press about the McCanns?
Of course you would.