The judges begin by describing the three main grounds for the appeal: the claim for freedom of expression under the Portuguese constitution [which has been described elsewhere since the verdict JB]; the second claim that the facts in the book were "mere reproductions” of the investigative data and the third, that those same facts were “even part of the Prosecutor’s report.”
All three claims are accepted at the end of the judgement.
They summarise Amaral’s theory, with no weasel words and nothing for the McCanns to pick out and spin: in the book, they say, Amaral defends the theory that the child died in the apartment on May 3, that an abduction was simulated, that the parents are suspected of concealing the body and that there was child neglect.
They then turn to the individual himself, someone that the legal system has until now shown every sign of treating as a non-person: Amaral. The judges remind us of his reasons for writing the book and quote: “Later on, I was removed from the investigation. I then decided that it was time for me to defend myself in a public way. Therefore, I immediately requested my retirement, so I could regain the plenitude of my freedom of expression.”
The judges add that it is “important” that the author feels he is the victim of injustice and wants the truth, or at least his version of the truth, to come out, especially since he felt his honour was in question and he was not allowed to reply in his own defence. With considerable understatement they add that this is not a minor point.
In the book, they say, Amaral presents a multiplicity of facts from the investigation, all of which are in the DVD and which are evaluated in the Prosecutors’ report. In this multiplicity of facts some are primary, some secondary: Amaral evaluates and weighs them accordingly, from the standpoint of someone with 26 years experience of police investigation.
Amaral, say the judges, describes in the book, in detail, a number of apparent facts and situations that from the outset of the investigation were not compatible with each other leading to contradictory conclusions.
They confirm that these reservations were not in opposition to the Prosecutors’ report but were essentially the same as those given by Humpty himself – by immediately turning to and quoting from his report: “From the analysis of the depositions that were made, [runs the report] it became evident that important details existed which were not fully understood and integrated, which needed to be tested and verified at the location of events, thus rendering it possible to establish the apparent failures to agree and the lack of consistency in a suitable investigative form: the reconstruction. This could not be carried out, despite the commitment that was displayed by the Public Ministry and by the PJ, …” [my translation JB]
The judges then turn to the dogs, quoting not from the Truth of the Lie but, once again, from the Prosecutors’ report. The findings of Eddie and Keela are given in some detail.
Having done so the judges add that the combination of the inconsistencies and the performance of the dogs was enough to constitute making them arguidos [there is no mention of “haste”JB]. As far as the dogs are concerned they state that forensic evidence, as we know, did not corroborate their findings; as far as the contradictions are concerned the Portuguese authorities, Justice ministry and PJ tried to perform a reconstruction but failed due to the lack of availability of the McCanns and their friends, leaving those contradictions still unresolved.
Here, once again, they quote not the Truth of the Lie but the Prosecutors’ report, [you know, that document that clears them] in support of what Amaral claims:
“(…) despite the fact that the national authorities took all measures to render their travelling to Portugal possible, due to motives that are unknown, after the many doubts that they raised concerning the need and the opportunity of their travelling were clarified several times, they chose not to show up, which rendered the diligence impossible to perform.
We believe that the main damaged party were the McCann arguidos, who missed the possibility to prove what they have protested since they were made arguidos: their innocence towards the fateful event; the investigation was also hindered, because said facts remain unclear (…)”.
Now, the killer blow and here we will quote the judges in full:
“What is certain [our italics JB] is that since the start of the investigation, there were incongruent and even contradictory situations concerning the witness statements, the telephone records of calls that were made and received on mobile phones that belonged to the couple and to the group of friends that were on holidays with them, the movements of people immediately after the disappearance of the little girl was noticed, concerning the state in which the bedroom from where the child disappeared from was found (closed window? open window? partially open window?), etc., and the mystery would only become even thicker due to the clues that were left by the aforementioned sniffer dogs.” Note the phrase: “what is certain”.
Killer blow number 2:
“Where Amaral differs from the Prosecutors who wrote the dispatch, is in the logical, police-work-related and investigative interpretation that he [Amaral] makes of those facts.”
And number 3:
We need, the judges say, to stress the following: the facts that led to the applicants’ constitution as arguidos within the inquiry were later on not sufficiently valued by the Public Ministry’s Prosecutors to lead to a criminal accusation, but those very same facts, seen from a different angle, may lead to a different conclusion from that of the prosecutors.
Suggestive data (“indications”) that were deemed to be insufficient in terms of evidence in a criminal investigation, can be appreciated in a different way, in an interpretation that can legitimately be published as a book, as long as the interpretation does not offend any fundamental rights of anyone involved. In our view that said interpretation does not offend the applicants’ rights.”
Costs were awarded against the McCanns .
The full implications of the judgement are going to take time for all parties to evaluate fully. But the claim that the Prosecutors’ report was a finding of either guilt or innocence is dead: it is an interpretation of the evidence of no more validity than that of Goncalo Amaral, perhaps – given, as the judges say, the experience and ability of the inspector – even less.
The verdict makes it quite clear that the burden of legal suspicion has not been lifted from the McCanns by the archiving report. And, by quoting the report in its relevant passages, the judges also show that the failure of the Tapas Nine to co-operate in clarifying the events of May 3 was, and remains, central to the investigation.
The TM lawyers – who have to be paid - will no doubt be studying the judgement – whose translators had to be paid - very carefully, in liaison with Shrieker Duarte, who has to be paid. Where will the Dirty Pair go ongetting the money? In the UK last week the famous Liverpool football club court case which involved virtually no preparatory work and ran for a mere few days had costs awarded against the losing party of around one hundred thousand pounds per day. Goncalo Amaral, God preserve him, has already faced the problems of trying to defend himself without any available funds: it may well be the McCanns’ turn next.