Método 3, the Spanish detective agency hired by the McCanns, tried to convince Leonor Cipriano's Lawyer to change the course of defense. The agency operational wanted to make of Gonçalo Amaral - the former coordinator of the PJ of Portimão, responsible for the investigation to the disappearance of Madeleine and Joana, the main target, through the intersection of the two cases
by Pedro Coelho/SIC
The contact was made during the period in which the Spanish detectives were investigating the case of Madeleine McCann, 3 years old, disappeared from Praia da Luz, Algarve, on 3rd May 2007. The agency's operationals contacted the lawyer from Algarve, João Grade dos Santos [Leonor Cipriano former Lawyer], requesting support in the investigations. "They told me that they had contacted me because I was working on a matter which according to them, had similarities", clarifies the lawyer.
João Grade dos Santos prompted the interest of Método3 because he was officially defending Leonor Cipriano in a process where Gonçalo Amaral, was accused, by the Public Ministry, of omission to report acts of torture, performed by three other inspectors of the PJ, during the questioning to the mother of Joana Cipriano. The process, still ongoing, involves 5 members of the Judiciary Police and was opened following a complaint put forward by the director of the Odemira prison [Ana Maria Calado].
In February 2005, the Expresso newspaper published [article written by the actual Lawyer's bar Marinho Pinto] a series of photos of Leonor Cipriano, where the prison inmate appears with her eyes and face bruised. The bruises denounced the existence of an aggression.
Joana's mother, the eight year old girl, who disappeared in 2004 from the village of Figueira in the Algarve, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the death and concealment of the corpse of her daughter.
In the contact made with João Grade dos Santos, the detectives of Método 3 spoke specifically of Gonçalo Amaral: "Obviously they had to speak about him: he was the inspector most talked about at that moment - mocked the lawyer - after all he was at the investigation of the two cases", he concludes. In their approach, the detectives emphasised the advantages of the proposal, "They told me that money for expenses was not a problem", stressed the lawyer.
Leonor Cipriano was defended by João Grade of Santos during all the inquest period but, on the eve of the start of the trial, the client waived the lawyer's services.
Months after having refused the proposal for collaboration with Metodo 3, João Grade dos Santos was replaced by Marcos Aragão Correia, a young lawyer with offices in Madeira [Portuguese Island]. From him it was a known a quick, but symbolic, passage through the continent: Aragão Correia participated in the searches for Madeleine, as a medium [psychic]. The lawyer had visions of the girl's corpse in the dam of the river Arade, in Silves. "The Judiciary Police - recognizes Aragão - completely dismissed these evidences, though I was a lawyer, while the Método 3 was very interested", he adds.
But the interest of the agency would focus in another objective: the detectives needed a lawyer who would assume the intersection of the Joana and Maddie cases.
Aragão Correia accepted what Grade dos Santos had refused: "The detectives met with me and told me: 'We are very concerned because there is an element common to both cases: Gonçalo Amaral, who is not interested in looking for children, he is only interested on incriminating the parents. It happened in Maddie’s case and also in Joana’s case.' Método 3 asked me to get involved in the case, they didn’t ask me to be Leonor’s lawyer, they asked me to make a few investigations as a lawyer."
Following the interest expressed with the case, Marcos Aragão Correia visited Leonor Cipriano at the Odemira prison from where he ended up close to becoming the substitute of João Grade dos Santos: "It was Leonor who asked me. She told me that no one had ever defended her like that. After much reflection I decided to accept, and I informed Dr.João Grade dos Santos of Leonor’s decision".
As soon as Marcos Aragão Correia assumed the defense of Leonor Cipriano, the proceedings, relative to the Faro’s trial against the five PJ inspectors, changed it's course. He assumes that change himself: "The biggest nightmare of Gonçalo Amaral was when I entered in the case", he alerts.
Paulo Pereira Cristovão, a former PJ inspector and one of the 5 arguidos of Faro accuses Marcos Aragão Correia of trying to make a 'deal' with the defendants."And that deal was: all of you incriminate Gonçalo Amaral and I’ll arrange so that Leonor Cipriano says that you have nothing to do with this – well, deals like this, only in Hollywood", ironizes Pereira Cristovão.
Marcos Aragão Correia does not deny the existence of such a deal, he even alleges that the deal was related with a "confidence made by one of the arguidos" that had reached his ears. "That defendant send an e-mail to a friend of mine where he pointed Gonçalo Amaral as being guilty", denounces the lawyer.
Marcos Aragão Correia confesses that the negative opinion about the way that Gonçalo Amaral investigated the cases of Maddie and Joana, is not shared alone with the Método 3, hired by the McCann couple. The lawyer feeds the enigma: "If I am taking sides for one of the parties, it is obvious that that side is giving me moral support".
Aragão Correia does not clarify who is in fact behind this puzzle: "The secrecy of the contract which bounds me to Método 3 stops me from revealing details regarding the private investigation", concludes.
Contacted by the SIC, Método 3 decided not to give any statements. Nevertheless the McCann family spokesman alleges that the family does not comment issues that they consider to be negative.