Ex-detective faces McCann libel trial

A libel trial will start today of a former senior Portuguese detective who published a book alleging that Madeleine McCann died inside her parents' apartment.

Kate and Gerry McCann launched legal action against Goncalo Amaral after he publicly questioned their accounts of what happened to their daughter.

The couple, both 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, flew to Lisbon yesterday ahead of the three-day trial at the main civil court in the Portuguese capital.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Four months after her disappearance, Portuguese police made Mr and Mrs McCann "arguidos", or formal suspects, in the case.

But their arguido status was lifted when the investigation was shelved in July 2008.

Mr Amaral at first led the inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance for Portugal's CID, the Policia Judiciaria (PJ).

But he was taken off the case in October 2007 after criticising the British police in a newspaper interview.

In his book Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie, published in July 2008, Mr Amaral claimed that Madeleine died in her family's holiday flat on the night she disappeared and questioned the McCanns' account that she was abducted.

A Portuguese judge granted an injunction in September last year banning further sale or publication of the book.

The former policeman was also prohibited from repeating his claims about Madeleine or her parents.

The McCanns travelled to Lisbon for the opening of the libel trial in December but the hearing was adjourned until this week after Mr Amaral's lawyer failed to turn up for health reasons.

The ex-detective's legal team is expected to argue that the material in his book is contained in the official Portuguese police files for the case, many of which were made public in August 2008.

Reports in Portugal suggested Mr Amaral plans to call a number of senior figures involved in the Madeleine investigation as witnesses.

They could include Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, the local public prosecutor in the case, and Guilhermino Encarnacao, director of the PJ in the Algarve when the child vanished.

Mr Amaral's lawyers also sought evidence from a British policeman, Metropolitan Police Detective Sergeant Jose De Freitas, who was seconded to Leicestershire Police to help with the British end of the investigation.

But he is not expected to appear as a witness in the trial.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Service has received correspondence from the Portuguese authorities.

"This correspondence is currently being considered."

In a statement released through their Portuguese lawyers, the McCanns said their main motive for challenging Mr Amaral was to further the search for their daughter.

They also argued that Mr Amaral's book was "against the Portuguese constitution and against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

"All the court decisions we are trying to obtain are destined to prove Madeleine is alive and spread the information that her search is worthwhile," the couple said.

It is understood that Mr and Mrs McCann plan to attend all this week's hearings, but do not intend to return to Praia da Luz as they did in December.

The couple are also seeking 1.2 million euros (£1.08 million) in compensation for defamation in separate legal proceedings against Mr Amaral in Portugal.

They have said any damages awarded by the courts would go towards paying for private investigators to look for Madeleine.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project