The former Portuguese police chief who investigated the disappearance of Madeleine McCann said her parents were ‘still suspicious’ as he rejoiced at his victory in court today.
Goncalo Amaral denounced Gerry and Kate in a radio interview in his native country after learning that they had lost the latest round of their libel battle against his 2008 book.
The couple had taken him to the European Court of Human Rights after years of litigation in their homeland over Truth of the Lie, which accused them of covering up Madeleine’s ‘accidental’ death in their apartment holidays in Praia da Luz in May 2007.
The McCanns reacted to their defeat in court by admitting they were ‘understandably disappointed’ with the ruling, but insisting they had no regrets about continuing their long and arduous legal battle.
They said it meant the focus was now ‘rightly’ on the search for Madeleine and her captors.
A few hours later, Amaral was on Portuguese radio, insisting: “Today the court again raised an important issue.
“The couple are suspicious, were suspicious and remain suspicious. Nothing else happened on the contrary.
The ex-Portuguese police chief who investigated Madeleine McCann’s disappearance said her parents were ‘still suspicious’ (file image)
Goncalo Amaral met Gerry and Kate in a radio interview in his homeland after learning they had lost the final round of their libel battle against his 2008 book
Madeleine disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz where she was staying with her parents in 2007, and no trace of her has ever been found
Referring to the main suspect Christian Brueckner, whom Amaral has in the past called a scapegoat, he added in an interview with Radio Renascenca: “Thousands or even millions of euros have been invested in recent years to create a false suspect “.
Amaral’s comments came despite the McCanns’ status being lifted by Portuguese authorities in July 2008.
Portugal’s Supreme Court said in a previous ruling on the Amaral book in 2017 that this did not mean they had been cleared and did not amount to “proof of innocence”.
But all the new investigative leads in recent years, both in Portugal and in the United Kingdom as well as in Germany where Brueckner is serving a seven-year prison sentence for raping an American pensioner, have ruled out any responsibility for the parents. .
The German was recently named an ‘arguido’ or suspect in Portugal.
Amaral, removed as head of the initial Policia Judiciaria investigation that led to finger-pointing at the McCanns, sang after learning that the latest court ruling on his book had gone against the couple: “It’s a victory for Portuguese justice against those who do not want the discovery of the truth of the realization of justice.
“Portugal have been beaten so many times at the ECHR and today they have emerged victorious.”
The McCanns won their initial libel suit against Amaral, but he appealed and Portuguese judges overturned the decision, prompting the McCanns to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
European judges delivered their verdict today and dismissed the appeal, giving the McCanns three months to decide whether to appeal again. A source close to the couple told MailOnline they were “disappointed” and were considering their legal options.
Kate and Gerry McCann (file) have lost the final round of a long legal battle with Goncalo Amaral – the Portuguese ex-cop who led the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance
In a statement posted on the official ‘Find Madeleine McCann’ Facebook page, the McCanns said: ‘We are understandably disappointed with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights announced today.
“However, a lot has changed since we took legal action 13 years ago against Mr Amaral, his publisher and broadcaster.
“We acted for one and only one reason: Mr. Amaral’s unfounded claims had a detrimental impact on the search for Madeleine.
“If the public believed we were involved in her disappearance, people would not be alert to any clues and might not report relevant information to the appropriate law enforcement.
“The focus is now rightly on the search for Madeleine and her captor(s). We are grateful for the continued work of the British, German and Portuguese police.
“We hope that with the help of the public, hard work and diligence, we can eventually find those responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance and bring them to justice.”
Lawyers for Kate and Gerry had argued that the Portuguese courts breached their right to respect for private and family life in the way the case was handled.
They also argued that their right to a fair trial had been violated by Amaral’s statements alleging their involvement.
However, European judges rejected that claim – saying the McCanns’ reputation had in fact been damaged by Portuguese police naming them suspects for a short time and not by Amaral’s comments.
They also rejected allegations that Portuguese authorities violated their right to privacy, noting that the parents took part in their own media interviews and took part in a documentary.
Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese police officer who led the initial investigation, later claimed in a book that the McCanns were involved in Maddie’s disappearance.
In a five-page judgment delivered today, the seven judges wrote: ‘The Court found that, even assuming that the applicants’ reputations had been tarnished, this was not an account of the argument advanced by the author of the book.”
‘Instead [their reputation was damaged] because of the suspicions expressed against them, which had led to their indictment within the framework of the criminal investigation.
The judges added: ‘The information had therefore been made known to the public in some detail even before the investigation file was made available to the media and the book in question was published.
“It follows that the national authorities did not fail in their positive obligation to protect the applicants’ right to respect for their private life.
The Strasbourg Court also pointed out that the Supreme Court of Portugal, in previous judgments, had not “implied any guilt of the applicants or even suggested suspicions against them”, stating that consequently their “complaint concerning their right to the presumption of innocence was manifestly ill-founded”. ‘
Rejecting the argument that the book breached their right to privacy, the judges noted that the McCanns themselves embarked on a media interview tour after the book’s publication.
“In particular, they cooperated on a documentary program about their daughter’s disappearance and continued to give media interviews,” they said.
“While the Court understood that the publication of the book had undeniably caused the applicants’ anger, anguish and distress, it does not appear that the book, or the distribution of the documentary (Amaral), had a serious impact on the applicants’ social relations or their legitimate and continuing attempts to find their daughter.
The panel was led by President Gabriele Kucsko-Stadimayer of Austria, as well as British Judge Tim Eicke and his colleagues from Bulgaria, Armenia, Andorra, the Netherlands and Portugal.
German prosecutors have named Christian Brueckner, who is currently in jail for rape, as the prime suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance
A source close to the family said: “They were very attached to the case, otherwise they would not have taken it to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Obviously, in their eyes, Goncalo Amaral’s comments were completely unjustified and they felt compelled to bring the case against the Portuguese Supreme Court’s decision in Strasbourg. They will now review the judgment and decide what to do.
“The most important thing for them is to find out what happened to their daughter and that has always been most important to them.”
Madeleine was three years old when she disappeared from a holiday apartment where she was staying with her parents, brother and sister in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
Kate and Gerry had eaten at a restaurant near the apartment with a group of friends who periodically returned to check on the sleeping children.
But when Kate returned to the flat around 10 p.m. to check on the children, she found Madeleine was missing.
Despite years of investigations – first by Portuguese police led by Amaral, then by British detectives – no trace of the schoolgirl has ever been found.
In 2020, investigators took the extraordinary step of naming prime suspect Christian Brueckner – a German who is currently in prison in his home country for rape.
Brueckner has previous convictions for child sex offenses and drug trafficking. In 2007 it was known that he lived in a motorhome near Praia da Luz.
Police say they have phone records that place Brueckner near the flat where Madeleine slept the night she disappeared, but currently cannot prove he took the girl.
Cops released his identity in hopes of convincing anyone with information to come forward and said they hope to bring charges this year.
Brueckner’s lawyers pointed out that he had not been formally charged and that he allegedly wrote a letter to German prosecutors from his prison cell telling them to “shut up or shut up”.