What Kate McCann's secret diary does not tell El Confidencial
By Aníbal Malvar
With thanks to Ines for translation
Kate McCann has been in Madrid this week to present the book "Madeleine", based upon her diaries and in which she exhaustively describes the police and personal efforts to recover her daughter. On 3rd May 2007, Maddie McCann aged four, disappeared whilst sleeping with her twin siblings in a chalet in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve. Since then, nothing has been heard about the girl.
The police had asked Kate McCann to try to reconstruct in detail and in writing all her activities, meetings, conversations, phone calls and visits, during the days previous to Madeleine's disappearance. Including the tiniest or most trivial detail. They assured her that this memory exercise would help the investigators follow the leads that might have appeared to her as having gone unnoticed. Kate McCann was used to, since her teenage years, taking up her exercise book every day and writing some impressions and details about her life. In other words, she kept a diary. However, this was not told to the Portuguese police. She waited for the arrival of the British intelligence service to deliver this more intimate diary. When the existence of this book came to light, the Portuguese police requested a copy from the British. It was denied. A gesture that muddied even further the already tense relations between the Portuguese and British investigators who were collaborating in the search for the girl.
Gonçalo Amaral had spent six years heading the Portimão Criminal Investigation Department when he was put in charge of the investigation. A few days before being taken off the case "due to political pressure" according to his own words, Amaral phoned me early in the morning in my Portimão hotel. It was the 12th September 2007 and until then, the Portuguese officer had avoided any contact with the press: "Justice is done in silence", he quoted Saint José to kindly evade any requests for interviews. The meeting took place in a Brazilian owned cafeteria in Olhão. A dull and over lit place that would remain open until dawn.
Amaral, who had charged the McCanns five days previously, arrived late, unshaven, his suit wrinkled and with deep shadows under his eyes. He said he had not slept for days. His shabby appearance was one of the most recurrent arms used by the British press to discredit him. In the UK defending the innocence of the McCann couple had become a question of patriotism, the tabloids had gone to the lengths of qualifying the Portuguese officer as a dipsomaniac, a bumpkin and even as suspected of being involved in a paedophile network. They did not pay any attention to Amaral who continued to insist on the theory that Madeleine had suffered a domestic accident and that the parents had disposed of her body to avoid scandal: according to Amaral's suspicions, the autopsy would have revealed that the McCanns had been sedating their hyperactive daughter and that they had exceeded the dosage. Gerry McCann, a doctor by profession, was at the point of being named for an important position in the British health service when the girl disappeared. A well-connected man with influence at the highest levels.
Although the Portuguese police had not had access to Kate McCann's diaries, Amaral knew of part of their content due to press leaks. According to these leaks, Kate admitted in her writings that Maddie's hyperactivity would on occasions, rile her. In any case, Amaral also doubted the veracity of what Kate had written, suggesting that the version of the diary delivered to the British several weeks after the disappearance would have been later manipulated to hide evidence: "If you take this book and write now that it is the 12th September and your impressions..., is that a diary or fiction?".
The line of investigation opened by Amaral and so dismissed by the British, is just a question of method: "Almost 90% of all missing children cases are the parents' responsibility," he says, referring to police statistics. But, in this case, there were more elements of suspicion.
Firstly, the McCanns did not call the police immediately after the disappearance. They first organised, together with the friends they were dining with that night, search patrols around the resort. When they finally called the Portuguese police, the McCann apartment had been infested by amateur investigators contaminating the scene of the events and making it difficult to obtain "clean" evidence. An unreasonable attitude from educated and affluent persons. Any parent having the financial resources the McCanns had would have immediately considered the possibility of a kidnapping with economic motives.
Furthermore, the media circus organised by the McCanns, implied to Amaral the immediate "condemning to death" of the girl in the case that this was an abduction by a paedophile network. The McCanns had clearly disregarded the recommendations for discretion made to them by the Portuguese police.
After having been removed from the case, a few days after our interview, Gonçalo Amaral requested early retirement and left behind 28 years of his profession in order to write the book "Maddie. The Truth of the Lie". In a few days more than 120,000 copies were sold. In the book, Amaral claims that Gerry McCann hid his daughter on the beach and, later, with the help of accomplices, froze her body and disposed of it. Traces of blood appeared in the apartment and car boot of the McCanns, but the police did not consider that there was conclusive proof to accuse the parents. Before the book "Truth of the Lie" was printed, PJ inspector Paulo Pereira Cristóvao had already written "The Star of Madeleine", a book in which he relates the investigation and maintains theories very similar to those defended by Amaral. This book also had successful sales.
Now Kate McCann has just presented her book "Madeleine" in Madrid with the aim of raising funds to continue searching for her daughter. Both the Portuguese and British police have abandoned the investigation. The McCanns however, have insisted during these four years, contracting detectives who have followed false leads even to India and offering a two million pound reward to anyone who provides true information leading to Madeleine's whereabouts.
Kate McCann's book has also been distributed in the UK and Portugal. Although "Madeleine" is partly based on them, it does not include the diaries that were so zealously denied by the British police to Gonçalo Amaral, whom, no longer a member of the police, continues to request publicly the re-opening of the case whenever he has the opportunity.