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AN ACCOUNT OF THE CONVICTION OF LEONOR AND JOAO CIPRIANO FOR THE MURDER OF JOANA CIPRIANO

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AN ACCOUNT OF THE CONVICTION OF LEONOR AND JOAO CIPRIANO FOR THE MURDER OF JOANA CIPRIANO

Post by Tony Bennett on 30.05.12 9:04

I am sorry, I have so far been unable to identify the precise source of this account. I am publishing it here in view of the fact that Amnesty International in its 2012 report has seen fit to include a finding that Dr Goncalo Amaral and others were guilty of torturing Leonor Cipriano:

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The Case of Joana Cipriano

Joana Cipriano

The case of Joana Cipriano highlights serious omissions on the part of authorities who failed to spot that the little girl was being exploited and neglected. According to a neighbour of the girl, Joana seemed unnaturally mature for her age. “She has a bearing and an attitude greatly beyond her years. Instead of playing with other children, she seems to spend her time taking care of her two little brothers.” Another neighbour described her as the “Cinderella” of the household, seen at all times of the day and night in the village, running errands for her family.

In September of 2004, Algarve knew another tragic history which evolved a child death. In the beginning, the mother, Leonor Cipriano started for presenting complaint in the GNR on the alleged disappearance of her daughter Joana of 8 years.

The PJ still investigated the presumption of abduction, but this theory fast became false when the proper mother of the girl fell into suspicion.

After long inquiries, happened what was feared. João Cipriano, uncle of the girl and brother of Leonor, confessed to the PJ that he and his sister had spanked the girl until the death. Months later, he added to his confession that had quartered [chopped up] the corpse. According to João, the body had been cut in three parts and kept in a refrigerating coffer, where the PJ found blood vestiges that corresponded to the girl. The couple had got rid themselves of the body in the following days of the crime, but they didn’t say where they had hidden it.

Court hears Joana’s horror story

Onlookers in the public gallery screamed abuse at the mother and uncle of Joana Cipriano as they were ferried to and from court.

The case, which has shocked the nation with its account of incest, murder and desecration, took just three days to be tried. The Public Ministry has pressed for jail terms of 24 years for the defendants, who are charged with qualified murder, as well as desecrating and concealing a body.

Joana disappeared, presumed murdered, in the Algarve village of Figueira, near Portimão. She was last seen buying food from a nearby café on the evening of September 12 last year. Prosecutors charge that she came home to find her mother, 34-year-old Leonor Cipriano, and her uncle, 32-year-old João Cipriano, having sex. Fearful that Joana would relate the incident to her stepfather, they allege that the couple decided to kill her. The prosecution also said that the couple had repeatedly mistreated Joana, recounting that she was little more than a “servant” in her own household.

The court heard a catalogue of horrifying details, including an earlier video-taped confession from Joana’s uncle in which he related the circumstances of his niece’s murder. This video testimony is now the subject of an appeal from the defence team who claim it should be excluded because the couple exercised their right to remain silent during the trial. In the taped confession, João Cipriano said he and his sister hit Joana who then banged her head against a wall before collapsing, unconscious, onto the floor. João Cipriano claimed that he had wanted to call an ambulance but that his sister prevented him, telling him instead to go to Joana’s stepfather and inform him that she had disappeared.

Mother had appealed for daughter’s return

Her mother made subsequent public appeals for her daughter’s safe return, claiming that she had been kidnapped. But authorities began to suspect the couple after villagers noted their allegedly off-hand reaction to Joana’s disappearance. Local shopkeeper Nídia Rochato remembered that Leonor neither cried nor seemed unduly concerned. When she commented on this to her, Leonor reportedly replied that she believed that her daughter was still alive.

The absence of a corpse delayed the arraignment process but the Public Ministry were able to indict the couple following statements from neighbours. Investigators also gathered forensic evidence at the house where Joana lived with her mother, stepfather and two brothers.

A total of 45 witnesses, mostly relatives and villagers, testified in court between Wednesday and Friday of last week. Four jurors (one man and three women) and three judges will decide the verdict. The opinions of the jurors – a 20-year-old student, a physiotherapist, a library employee and a waitress – will carry the same weight as the judges.

Joana’s uncle had contempt for human life

Leonor and João Cipriano, who have been held on remand for over a year, stood silently and without emotion as they heard prosecutor José Pinheiro outline his case. He described João Cipriano as a man who “has contempt for human life, psychopathic tendencies and difficulty in controlling impulses”. Pinheiro also castigated Joana’s mother for her “emotional instability, insensitivity and disregard for other people’s needs”. Only when Pinheiro announced that he was pressing for a 24-year jail term for both defendants did Leonor show emotion, sobbing uncontrollably.

Pinheiro explained why his team was pressing for such a long sentence. “The defendants’ guilt is heightened by their cold and calculating behaviour after their child’s death, as well as the devious manoeuvres they adopted to conceal the crime,” he said.

The trial included key testimony from Joana’s stepfather, António Leandro, who related that Leonor had confided to him that she had had a sexual relationship with her brother. He also told the court that during this conversation, which took place a few days after Joana’s disappearance, at judicial police headquarters, Leonor had admitted that she and her brother had killed the little girl.

A key element of the prosecution’s case rests on the fact that the couple dismembered the girl’s corpse. António Leandro, confronted with photographs of tools allegedly used by the couple, said he recognised a saw he had kept at home. In the video taped confession, João Cipriano admitted that the body of the girl was dismembered and placed in a refrigerated trunk. A doctor involved in the case, Albino Santana dos Santos, conceded that body parts, matching the size of a girl of Joana’s height, could have been stuffed inside the trunk.

Defence team challenges evidence

Despite the evidence, João Grado, Leonor Cipriano’s lawyer, still pressed for her acquittal, describing the evidence as “miserable”. João Cipriano’s lawyer, Sara Rosado, reminded the court that Joana’s body had never been found and dismissed the prosecution’s version of events. “João Cipriano has an intelligence level considerably lower than the average. How is it possible that such a person could deceive everyone for so long?” she asked the court.

But prosecutors disagreed, describing the case as a “veritable horror story that proves that reality really does surpass fiction”. “Nobody can say that they wanted to kill her when they hit. But later when they persisted, they knew that she was going to die. Their guilt is absolute – the victim was a minor, the daughter and niece of the defendants,” they told the court.

The corpse of the girl never was found, but this fact didn’t hinder the PJ to continue with the inquiries, and in November of 2005 the court of Portimão condemned Leonor to twenty years and four months of arrest and João Cipriano to a penalty of nineteen years and two months.

The absence of a corpse delayed the arraignment process but the Public Ministry were able to indict the couple following statements from neighbours. Investigators also gathered forensic evidence at the house where Joana lived with her mother, stepfather and two brothers.

Pinheiro castigated Joana’s mother for her “emotional instability, insensitivity and disregard for other people’s needs”. Only when Pinheiro announced that he was pressing for a 24-year jail term for both defendants did Leonor show emotion, sobbing uncontrollably.

Pinheiro explained why his team was pressing for such a long sentence. “The defendants’ guilt is heightened by their cold and calculating behaviour after their child’s death, as well as the devious manoeuvres they adopted to conceal the crime,” he said.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


The couple received 16 year sentences.

What the report doesn’t say is the mother waited 2 days before she notified the police.

During that time she washed her house down with petrol.

Blood was found in the freezer belonging to Joana which the mother claimed came from a nose bleed after she had given Joana a beating.


3 years later the brother has written a letter in which he claimed that Joana had been sold by her mother and was not dead.

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ANOTHER REPORT SAID:


Leoneor Ciprinao and his brother, who had a incestuous relationship, were both sentenced to 16 years in prison, for the killing of the child, Joana Cipriano.

They killed her, after she came back home earlier and found sister and brother (her mother and her uncle) having sexual relations. They cut the body in pieces, kept a few in the refrigerator, than burned and gave the remainings to the pigs, to eat . Samples of blood of the child, Joana Cipriano, were found inside her mother’s refrigerator.

Leonor Cipriano accused five officers of beating her. They were put on a police line-up and she didn’t recognise not even one of the alleged aggressors (including Chief-Inspector Gonçalo Amaral).

The magistrate of the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigated the complaint of Leonor Cipriano against CID Chief-Inspector Gonçalo Amaral and the other five CID officers and decided to prosecute them, didn’t included in the accusation documents the results of the police line-up (which took place with Leonor Cipriano behind a two-way mirror…)

That magistrate is being sued by the Portuguese CID Officers union, and has a complaint with the Conselho Superior da Magistratura (“High Magistrates Council”) the body in charge of nominating and disciplining judges and magistrates from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Update: The trial of the officers who supposedly beaten up Leonor Cipriano started today 11th of February in the Court of Portimão.

[Note by TB: I think this was 11 February 2007 or 2008]

____________________

Kate McCann, in her book 'madeleine', page 5: "Since 3 May 2007, there has undoubtedly been much going on behind the scenes we haven't known about and perhaps never will".  Goncalo Amaral: "We will know the truth about what happened to Madeleine when the MI5 files on her case are made public".   

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A discussion on the murder of Leonor Cipriano by her mother and uncle (June 2009)

Post by Tony Bennett on 30.05.12 18:40

I reproduce here notes of a TV discussion in June 2009 on Portuguese TV station RTP.

It really requires some notes, but I will publish it as I received it. It may have been on Joana Morais' forum at one time; anyway, whether it was Joana or someone else who wrote up the article in English, I'm not sure, but acknowledgements anyway to whoever did the transaltion and published it.

It is quite useful in one way because it gives the sequence of events from Ms Cipriano's original false claim that Joana had been abducted, to her confession and that of her brother, to her incarceration on Odemira Women's Prison and then her questioning again at Faro Police Station where it is alleged that she was tortured.

It seems to remain the belief of the McCanns and their supporters that Leonor Cipriano and her brother are innocent victims of police brutality, cruelly tortured into making false confessions.

Which, to say the least, is interesting:

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The Leonor Cipriano Case - Early Days

pm on Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:37 am

Excerpt from a debate on RTP – ‘Pros & Contras’ – last Monday evening, about the current state of the Portuguese Lawyers’ Order. On one side, the current Head of the Order, António Marinho Pinto, accompanied by the President of the District Counsel of Madeira, Fernando Campos, and of the Azores, Eduardo Vieira. On the opposite side, the President of the District Counsel of Lisbon and lawyer to the McCanns, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, the President of the District Counsel of Faro and lawyer to Gonçalo Amaral, António Cabrita, and former Head of the Order and also lawyer to the McCanns, Rogério Alves. The Joana case is subject to discussion, at some point during the debate.

"(3:04) Carlos Pinto de Abreu: “So much is said about the Joana case. The Joana case led Dr António Marinho Pinto to put a few photos in Expresso [newspaper]. But he did nothing more. Except now, a long time after, to nominate a lawyer to be an assistant in the Order’s name. This means that he doesn’t trust the lawyers who have been assigned – because there have been lawyers assigned, on behalf of the victims and on behalf of the arguidos, and so he didn’t trust those lawyers. He didn’t even trust lawyers in the Algarve. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t present any kind of solution. Contrary to what Dr Marinho Pinto did, which was to publish a photo in the Expresso newspaper, I, for example, wrote a letter to the Attorney General, asking for no criminal police force to investigate that case, precisely to prevent that the Polícia Judiciária, the GNR or the PSP would investigate it, but rather the Public Ministry’s magistrates themselves. These are concrete solutions. Dr Marinho Pinto didn’t propose, in legislative terms, any change to the Penal Process Code to prevent this from happening, either. Apart from filing a complaint with the Public Ministry’s Superior Counsel and another one with the Magistrates’ Superior Counsel, concerning this matter, and I did that nominally, I have also proposed to the committee for the penal reform, and this was accepted, that all interrogations of arguidos have to be made in the presence of their lawyer.

(4:55) António Marinho Pinto: May I just say the following. When you say ‘put a few photos in Expresso’, what I did, as a journalist, which I was at that time, and worked for Expresso, I made a report about a case of torture at a criminal police force. And it took me, and I wish to publicly congratulate Expresso, because the work that I did, took four months. Four months. I went to the Algarve and to Odemira four times. I spoke with people at the prisons, I spoke with medics, I spoke with lawyers, I spoke with countless people, until I discovered the piece of evidence which were the photographs that I knew existed. And I published the article in Expresso. It was that, more than 30 thousand letters one could write, secretly, to the entities, it was that which made justice move forward. That was what made justice move."

Taking advantage of this introduction, I propose a closer look at the early days of the so-called ‘Leonor Cipriano case’, which is largely a separate story from the ‘Joana case’.

On the 12th of September 2004, Joana Cipriano Guerreiro, aged 8, disappears from the village of Figueira, near Portimão. The disappearance takes place at around 8.30 p.m., after the girl left her home to buy milk and canned tuna. For days, her mother, Leonor Cipriano, makes appeals on television, stating that her daughter was abducted.

On the 21st of September, Leonor Cipriano is taken away for questioning by the PJ of Portimão. It is already suspected that Joana was murdered. Then, on the 25th of September, Leonor Cipriano is placed under preventive custody at the prison of Odemira, under special security measures, after confessing to the accidental death and concealment of Joana’s cadaver. Two days later, the Court orders preventive custody for her brother João Cipriano, co-author of the crime.

On Monday, the 27th of September, Leonor Cipriano accuses the PJ inspectors of physically assaulting her to force her to confess to the crime. After simulating intense abdominal pain, while under questioning at the PJ in Faro, and screaming that she was hit in the belly to force her to confess, the inspectors take her to Faro Hospital, where her entry is registered at 8.25 p.m. At the hospital, the spots of blood that Leonor had left on a chair at the PJ, and which she stated were the result of physical aggression by police officers, were unmasked as menstrual bleeding.

During the night of the 14th to the 15th of October, Leonor is questioned overnight, at the PJ building in Faro. No lawyer is present, allegedly because this is an ‘informal questioning’, according to the police officers. In the early morning of October 15, she is taken by the PJ agents themselves to the Health Centre in Odemira, with bruises on her face and body.

On the 7th of January 2005, the Public Ministry opens an inquiry to investigate the alleged aggressions from PJ agents against Leonor Cipriano.

On the 26th of February, weekly newspaper Expresso publishes an article titled ‘Questions without answer’, by journalist António Marinho Pinto, presently the head of the Portuguese Lawyers’ Order. On the front page of the newspaper, the photograph of Leonor’s face, covered with bruises. On the same day, Santos Cabral, then National Director of the Polícia Judiciária, states, in a press release, that it was exclusively through an initiative of the PJ itself that the investigations into the alleged aggressions against Leonor Cipriano were jumpstarted.

Dr Marinho Pinto may well claim that he is the centre of the Universe; it remains a fact that the investigation into the alleged torture was not started by him, as it was well under way when he published his article in Expresso.

On the other hand, it remains unexplained, to this day, how the photographs came into his possession. By making the Lawyers' Order an assistant in the case of Leonor Cipriano - a move that was, and still is, subject to much criticism among lawyers - Dr Marinho Pinto rendered it impossible for him to be summoned onto the witness stand.

Coincidence - or coincidental facts?

____________________

Kate McCann, in her book 'madeleine', page 5: "Since 3 May 2007, there has undoubtedly been much going on behind the scenes we haven't known about and perhaps never will".  Goncalo Amaral: "We will know the truth about what happened to Madeleine when the MI5 files on her case are made public".   

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