Reported by Ana Paula Azevedo 19/10/10
The Lisbon court of Appeal has awarded judgment in favour of the former Policia Judiciaria inspector, Gonçalo Amaral, concerning the injunction that had been filed by Madeleine McCann's parents.
On Thursday of last week, the Appeal Court judges overturned the ban that had been imposed by the Lisbon Civil Court on the distribution and sale of the book, "The Truth of the Lie," (A Verdade da Mentira) as well as on interviews and television reports about the same in Portugal and abroad.
The McCanns claimed that Gonçalo Amaral's book and his interviews about it, had caused, "very serious and irreparable damage," to their family and in particular to their children, twins Sean and Amelie. They invoked infringement of their privacy and family life and damage to their reputation and good image.
However, for the Lisbon Court of Appeal, "the book's contents do not infringe any of the claimants' fundamental rights. The exercise of writing and publication is enshrined in the constituional rights granted to all by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the Constitution of the Republic of Portugal." (Relating to freedom of expression and information and freedom of the press and the media.)
We note that the investigation into Maddie's disappearance, which was coordinated by Gonçalo Amaral, ended by being archived without any conclusive certainty about what had happened to the three-year-old child. In the book, "The Truth of the Lie," the former inspector claims that Maddie died in her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, probably as a result of an accident, on May 3rd 2007 - after which the McCann couple, with the help of their holiday friends, hid her body. Gonçalo Amaral also claims that he was forced to write the book to defend his reputation and to restore his professional honour, since at a certain point, he was removed from the investigation before it was concluded by a decision from the National Directorate of the Policia Judiciaria.
The Appeal Court judges compared the contents of the book with the final report of the investigation into Maddie's disappearance, "The book does not include any facts which are not also included in that final report. Where the author differs from the attorneys who drafted that report is in the logical interpretation of those facts from a police work point of view. In this respect, there is the right of opinion, moreover in an area in which the author is an expert, since he had been a criminal investigator for 26 years."
"With reference to the complainants' (the McCanns') privacy, they themselves have given many interviews and talks for the media with information that would not otherwise have been made public," and that, "they voluntarily placed limits on their rights to privacy, in order to achieve higher goals such as the discovery of their daughter's whereabouts."
In doing so, "they opened the doors for others to express their opinion on the subject, about what was being said and also to contradict what was being said, always within a legal and constitutionally guaranteed right to respond and freedom of expression of opinion."
The judgment was handed down by judges Francisco Bruto da Costa, Catarina Arel Mando and Antonio Valente.
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