Thursday, 18 September 2008

SOS Madeleine McCann: Gonçalo Amaral's wife addresses an open letter to Kate McCann

In an interview with a Portuguese daily newspaper, often pointed out as being close to Me Rogério Alves, Kate McCann accused Gonçalo Amaral, former coordinator of the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, of disgraceful behaviour, "as a person and professionally."

If the ex-inspector, in his usual calm way, did not react, it was without reckoning with the temperament and strength of character of typical Portuguese women. Sofia Amaral, wife of the PJ former coordinator, addressed an open letter to Kate McCann in which, with a good dose of irony and sarcasm, she thanked Madeleine's mother for, "a feeling," they had in common. Today, Gonçalo Amaral's wife has been invited onto a television programme on TVI at around 12pm.
Here is the full text of the document:
Open letter to Mrs Healy, Kate.

-- Dear Madam,

Excuse my audacity, but after learning about your comment in your interview with the newspaper, Expresso, on the subject of Gonçalo Amaral, my husband and father of my daughters, I have to send you these words of thanks. For many years I have been trying to make myself understood with this feeling that unites you and I "....and his behaviour is a disgrace professionally and as a person"...

Consider this:

a) Professionally

-- As coordinator of criminal investigation for the PJ, my husband has always refused to sit comfortably behind his desk, from 9 to 5, which is usual for his rank.

Instead of that, he spent the day (and sometimes the night) on the ground with the investigators, coordinating "on the spot" searches, surveillance, seizures and other duties. What a disgrace! But if this was just about being exposed to the elements, things wouldn't be serious, because as madam Kate knows, the weather here is not bad. The problem is his commitment to the cause which has cost him promotion in his career. I will explain, because this case is contemporary to the search for your daughter. My husband was involved as senior coordinator, and between seizures of drugs, kidnappings and murders, he succeeded in producing a theory about drug trafficking by sea, which he defended before a jury in Lisbon, who congratulated him.

Full of hope, Gonçalo Amaral returned to the Algarve to await the result. It was with astonishment that he learned that he had been passed over by other colleagues (coordinators as it happens, to tell the truth), because he had not managed to get himself into "professonal training" settings. And yes, madam Kate, my husband spent his life working, in the midst of complex investigations. He was the man in Portugal who seized most drugs, but as he didn't have the time to parade himself in the corridors of the PJ's institution, he was not promoted. A disgrace, madam, a disgrace!

As you must know, because you seem very well informed to me, my husband's salary was barely 1.5 times the minimum wage of your country. However, as a wife, mother and Portuguese, I cannot complain, given that Gonçalo Amaral's salary was the equivalent of 4.5 times the minimum wage in Portugal. Pay attention to this, which serves as an example of what I am going to explain: at one time, an individual shot an officer of the PSP and fled into neighbouring Spain. Between the comings and goings of a PJ team, of which my husband was a part, they were there for more than 15 days.

At that time, international expenses were 100€. As madam Kate can imagine, it is not possible on that amount to eat and to lodge in Spain, still less when it is Christmas Eve, and this money would only be available (with a bit of luck) by Easter. Even with that, Gonçalo Amaral never refused, not even for a day, to search for the evasive murderer, thus increasing our family budget. And this is only one example amongst many. I once suggested to him the creation of a fund, or something else for dealing with these extraordinary expenses, but he never listened to me. While we too had our mortgage to pay...A disgrace, Madam Kate, a disgrace!

b) Also as an individual, his behaviour is a disgrace, because it was never possible to distinguish or to have a private life with the way of working he chose. However, and if my dear friend Madam Kate will allow me, I can give some examples: Five years ago, a child called Joana "disappeared." The mother, just like Madam Kate, tried to project the case into the media, but this was as far as she got...After 8 days, came the confessions and the evidence: During an incestuous act between the mother and the uncle, the child was beaten, later cut into pieces and her body disposed of, no one knows where. The mother and the uncle were imprisoned, with the trial coordinated by Gonçalo Amaral, and bringing each of them nearly 20 years in prison. But going back a bit.

The child died on September 12th. On Christmas Eve, our family were together to begin our prayers, when my husband asked me to prepare a bag with food and warm clothes, because he had not yet carried out his Christmas act of contrition and penitence. Try to imagine, Madam Kate, where Gonçalo Amaral took himself that Christmas night when there was torrential rain and roaring thunder? To the Olhao prison establishment, where João Cipriano, Joana's uncle, was a prisoner; confessed murderer and clinically declared a psychopath. For my husband, giving alms to a beggar did not represent any sacrifice.

On the other hand, joining and sharing his Christmas meal with João Cipriano was the sacrifice he offered to God in memory of Joana. And isn't that a disgrace? Know this, Madam Kate, every year, on September 12th, my husband requests a mass for Joana Isabel Cipriano Guerreiro. He says that no one else will remember the poor child. But people remember to accuse him unjustly of acts and crimes which he has never committed. Isn't that a disgrace, Madam Kate?

I will relate one last story, which still costs me to talk about. This year, in May, we started the process of moving our family to Portimao. My husband's holiday was supposed to start the day after your daughter disappeared. "For obvious reasons," that didn't happen. I started a new job, I looked at houses, I made the move and I tried to settle our daughters into new schools with new routines.

All that alone, without any support from my husband, who, for obvious reasons, was looking for your daughter, Madam Kate. In October, on the day of his birthday, a week after our daughters had started the new school year, Gonçalo Amaral was dismissed and returned to Faro. It was supposed to be a time of the family getting together, but in fact it was even more of a separation. Isn't that a disgrace? Our daughters have never understood, and we have never succeeded in explaining to them what the obvious reasons were that justified a father leaving his daughters to look for a child he didn't know and whom the parents neglected. A disgrace that my dear friend Kate was not there at that time. Perhaps you could have helped us explain the "obvious reasons" to our children for their father's being sent back.

To finish, on the intimate subject of Gonçalo Amaral, I can only tell you that he is exactly as the Latinos have a reputation for: a wild one, and my modesty does not allow me to say any more.

I ask my dear friend to forgive these thoughts of a wife and mother, but I am sure you will understand. I will finish this missive by asking you to pass on to your mother my sincere compliments. She seemed very sincere to me when, during an interview, she said she had the urge to slap those who had left her grandchildren alone. She spoke as openly as a true Portuguese grandmother would have done.

My dear friend Madam Kate, without wishing to bother you any further, I would like you to do me a last favour: now that you are starting to let the truth come out, don't stop, go on, and tell the truth the world is waiting to hear.

With my best regards,

Sofia Leal

(Wife and mother of Gonçalo Amaral's children.)

Enfants Kidnappés: disappearance of Antoine de Brugerolle from his mother's house in Issoire.

The theory of abduction has taken precedence over running away, with the announcement on Sunday of the opening of an investigation for, "abduction and sequestration of a minor," after the disappearance of Antoine, aged six and a half, from his mother's home in Issoire (Puy-de-Dome)

"The more time passes, the more the idea of running away is losing consistency and I am not very optimistic," stated Jean-Yves Coquillat, prosecutor of the Republic for Clermont-Ferrand, during a press conference at the Clermont-Ferrand courthouse.

"There are some things that I can tell you and others which I cannot tell you because this is a very difficult investigation, (and) I cannot take the risk of compromising it
," the magistrate added in a serious voice.

Aged 23, Antoine's mother told the investigators that she went out for dinner at a restaurant with her new partner, on Thursday evening at around 8pm. On their return, at around 9.15pm, they discovered the child's disappearance.

No trace of tampering had been found in the apartment situated on the first floor of an old building in the centre of Issoire, giving credence to, in the first instance, the idea that the little boy, described as, "very resourceful," and "assertive," had run away.

Especially as, according to his mother, Antoine had allegedly taken a few biscuits in his sports bag.

Waitress in an Issoire bar-restaurant, the young woman was interviewed twice by the investigators and stuck to her statements, according to the prosecutor.

According to her, Antoine, who had returned to school on September 2nd, didn't go back from the following day, because he was suffering from gastro-enteritis.

But since that date, there is not, "
one credible witness statement from anyone reportedly having seen the child," M. Coquillat stressed.

The child, "
was not seen by doctors. There isn't a medical certificate," was further noted by the magistrate, for whom , "nothing corroborates," the mother's version, she herself being on sick leave for an unspecified reason.

In addition, the young woman never, "
responded to calls from the school's head teacher who was worried by the child's absence," the prosecutor added, regretting that the latter had not informed the gendarmerie.

Like her new partner, aged 29, Antoine's mother is, "known to police services." In 2003, she was sentenced by the Clermont-Ferrand magistrates court to 18 months in prison, of which 12 months was suspended, for trafficking in narcotics, according to the prosecutor.

On Sunday morning, thirty police officers were still combing the area around the child's home with the "
hope of finding him alive."

"We started checking places we had already been, especially the sheds," lieutenant-colonel Pascal Palayer, communications officer for the Auvergne regional Gendarmerie, explained to AFP.

Little Antoine's description.

Antoine is 1.10m tall, weighs 19kg, has chestnut hair and pierced ears. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing blue fatigue-type trousers, a white T-shirt, a light blue sweater, a brown jacket and red, black and silver Nike shoes.

Editor's note: the date given by Antoine's mother for his disappearance is Thursday September 11th.