REPORT ON TORTURE IN LEONOR CIPRIANO CASE PERPETRATED BY THE PORTUGUESE JUDICIAL POLICE
Following the public allegations by Leonor Cipriano that she was tortured by the Policia Judiciara back in September 2004, she is now currently in prison while serving a sentence of 16 years and 8 months in the Prison of Odemira.
The ACED (Association Against Exclusion for Development) decided to investigate in more detail the claims of Leonor Cipriano and others, especially when the situation had become urgent, to clarify the extent to which the Policia Judiciara routinely engage in torture.
It seems that these medieval methods of criminal investigation apply both in the most recent case of the girl Madeleine Beth McCann, and in the case of Leonor Cipriano.The social position of these two sets of parents could not be more opposite.
Thus, after obtaining the kind and generous permission of the representative of Leonor Cipriano, the Portuguese Dr. John Grade dos Santos, I visited Leonor Cipriano in Odemira Prison, in Alentejo, arriving shortly after 9 o'clock in the morning today (April 8, 2008).
Leonor Cipriano was summoned, and agreed to talk with me in the room reserved for lawyers at the prison for the purpose.
Leonor Cipriano maintained, with sincere conviction, that she had no involvement whatsoever in the death of her daughter Joana, who had gone missing on 12 September 2004, last being seen around 8.00pm.
Residents in the village of Figueira in Mexilhoeira Grande, near Portimão, remember seeing Joana walking towards a grocery store named 'Pastry Célia', around a quarter of a mile away from Leonor Cipriano's home. The grocery store is owned by Mrs. Alfélia. She went there to buy some food, as she often did.
After about 10 minutes, when Joana did not return, Leonor Cipriano said she went to the grocery store to find her. The owner said she had been there, but left soon after making a few purchases that had been requested by her mother.
Leonor still tried to look for her daughter nearby, but in vain. As a result, the grocery owner Ms. Alfélia telephoned the GNR to ask for help. Immediately the National Republican Guard arived at the grocery store and the mother’s residence by 9.00pm that very evening.
Joana Cipriano was then 8 years old, born on May 31, 1996, and attending her 2nd year of schooling.
Leonor Cipriano says she has 6 children, including Joana. The oldest is Dina Maria, now 18 years. Next is Mark Anthony, 12 years, Joana would now be 11, André Filipe is now 8, Ruben 6, and Lara Sofia who is 4.
Despite all the public defamation of Leonor Cipriano, the older children by and large support their mother. They are the offspring of different relationships.
Leonor's former partner, David Anthony Leandro Silva, has now separated from her due to all the stresses of the situation. He is the father of her two youngest children. He says he always treated Joana as his own daughter, with five of them living in the same house. Leandro Silva has always claimed that Leonor Cipriano was utterly incapable of hurting any of her six children.
It was on September 25, 2004 that Leonor Cipriano was received at the Prison of Odemira and detained there. There she was immediately taken for interrogation by several detective inspectors of the Policia Judiciara to the premises of the Faro police. This is the place where Leonor Cipriano suffered hell. Her tears just ran and ran; I saw copious tears in my presence.
I practise mainly in criminal law. I think I can say with great conviction that her tears were genuine. Leonor cried when she recalled what those Policia Judiciara did to her during her interrogation. They accused her of directly causing her death and then cutting up her body and feeding it to the pigs.
Leonor refused to admit to such accusations. These police officers had no evidence. They had no evidence of the material used for the alleged cutting of Joana's body. They had no evidence of bones left by the pigs. The inspectors themselves were pigs, about five of them, screaming and trying to get her to confess what they wanted her to confess. Leonor refused to confess. So the torture began. First the inspectors put two glass ashtrays on the floor and forced Leonor to kneel on them.
They did not allow her to get up from her knees throughout this torture. Leonor has described to me how she was in pain for hours during this procedure. She had scars on her knees. Almost 4 years later, these scars are still visible, and will probably remain with her for the rest of her life. There are white lines on both her knees that show that she has fallen victim to such abuse, or at least something very similar.
When they realised that this procedure of forcing her to kneel on ashtrays was getting them nowhere, the detective inspectors, sitting on their chairs, then put Leonor's head in a green, plastic supermarket bag. As they screamed, trying to force a false confession from her, the inspectors began to attack Leonor on the head with a hard cardboard tube, normally used for sending documents by mail.
This very hard pipe, used with extreme force on Leonor's head, caused bleeding to her eyes. On occasions when Leonor tried to get the bag off her head, she was immediately assaulted further on her hands. She pleaded with them not to kill her.
These serious assaults were interwoven with other forms of torture. Sometimes Eleanor was able to stand once in a while, sometimes holding the bag, sometimes not holding the bag. On the occasions she was standing, the inspectors punched her violently with strong punches, especially on her sides.
This procedure was repeated many times. The torture lasted 2 days. Leonor says she was afraid of dying there. So after 2 days of continuous torture, she signed the confession that was put in front of her, without even reading it, because otherwise she feared she might die.
In possession of Leonor's false confession, the inspectors then returned her to the prison. But on admission, it was noted that her state of health was so serious that the prison authorities decided to move her to the Medical Centre in Odemira Prison. In fact, Faro Hospital had the most comprehensive health care, with input from Californian health care experts, but she was still sent to Odemira Prison by the detectives. Leonor Cipriano had been warned before going back to Odemira Prison to tell the doctor and the prison authorities that she had thrown herself down the stairs of the offices of the Faro Police Station in order to try to commit suicide.
She had been threatened that if she revealed any details of the 2-day assault on her, they would bring her back for a further assault. She had been told by the Faro detectives that if she had to return to Faro Police Station they would beat her until she was no longer alive.
Leonor confirmed to the prison authorities, in the presence of them, exactly what they had been told by the insepctors to say.
But scarcely had they left the prison, than Leonor decided to tell the whole truth to the guards and to the Director of Odemira Prison. She - the Prison Governor - was alarmed by the precarious state of health and the pain of Leonor Cipriano. She therefore arranged for her to be photographed and sent back to the Odemira Prison Medical Centre, this time to be seen by a top Consultant Doctor.
I talked for almost 2 hours to Leonor Cipriano. I had been careful to also arrange for a meeting immediately afterwards with the Director of Odemira Prison, in order to confirm this information. I promptly received this confirmation. I talked with the Director of Odemira Prison for about one hour. Her name is Ana Maria Calado.
She has a degree in Sociology and also attended a course of Medicine. She has been the Director of Odemira Prison for 7 years. She confirmed to me the courage with which Leonor Cipriano had reported her torture.
She is clearly a person who puts great emphasis on the value of corporate interests. Dr. Ana Maria told me she was shocked by the state in which Leonor Cipriano entered the prison.
She told me that the black marks, contusions and bruises were visible abundantly in the face, especially around the eyes, on the head and on her back, mainly to the sides.
These findings were confirmed by medical experts in the prison. The physical marks on her, the doctors concluded, clearly indicated violent attacks, and not a by a simple falling down the stairs. These physical marks were numerous and quite pronounced.
During our meeting, Dr Ana Maria surprised me with several new facts. She told me that the Portuguese Judiciara had not even bothered to convey her to a hospital in Faro.
Another strange fact was that the Portuguese police had chosen Tuesday as the day to question her, coinciding with its week of vacation.
If I were the head of the police, I would never have allowed the behaviour of the Policia Judiciara. They got Leonor Cipriano at 6 o'clock in the morning, and then returned for her in the middle of the night. There was no formal request for this form of interrogation from the Director of the Policia Judiciara.
It was even stranger that, when enquiries began with an internal investigation into the interrogation and torture of Leonor Cipriano by the PJ, a team of two inspectors from Lisbon held a private meeting with her in prison. Their mission was to try to negotiate a sharing of blame between the PJ and the Odemira Prison in relation to the attacks on, and torture of, Leonor.
As a person of integrity, Dr. Ana Calado obviously refused to come to any compromise regarding something for which the establishment for which she was responsible at the time - Odemira prison - had no responsibility for whatsoever.
The Chief Prison Medical Officer said that Leonor Cipriano's health had got even worse a week after she had been tortured. The blood had accumulated around the eyebrows and became highly inflamed and swollen, making her nearly blind for nearly a month.
My only regret today, said Dr Ana Calado, was that at the time I did not order more photographs to be taken to illustrate Leonor's poor state of health on admission and immediately afterwards. Dr Ana Maria's statement added: "I must say that in terms of her attitude and behaviour, Leonor Cipriano is one of the best prisoners that I have had for many years. She has not tried to commit suicide although she had many opportunities to do so after the fateful interrogation. Leonor has always had an excellent relationship with all the prison guards and the other prisoners, which has gone from strength to strength."
With a touch of humor, Dr Ana Calado added that: "If your car had exploded this morning, I already know who would have been responsible!".
Our meeting ended and it confirmed for me all the details of the excellent statement that Dr Ana Calado had already made in this case.
John Cipriano, aged 38 years, the brother of Leonor and older by one year, says that he was tortured separately, according to the same report, but the prison to which her brother was sent should now carry out the same steps to gather evidence of assault as did the authorities at Odemira prison.
John Cipriano wrote to Leonor, after the two of them had been sentenced. He begged her to forgive him for all the lies he had told in court, which he had been forced to come up with because of the torture of him. He asked his sister to forgive him for all these lies.
Leonor Cipriano tried to identify, at the request of prosecutors, the four or five detective inspectors that had tortured her. Accordingly, she was transported to Évora in 2006 to try to recognise some of the torturers. She was invited to see if she could identify up to six inspectors.
Unfortunately, given the lapse of time, and the fact that she had often had a bag over her head when attacked, she was unable to be certain of recognising any of the aggressors.
The only thing that Leonor was able to say with absolute certainty was that Gonçalo Amaral, then coordinator of the CID of Portimão, was present throughout the interrogation, watching complacently while all the torture took place. Every time she was able to open her eyes and every time she was beaten, Amaral was there, walking from one side to another without ever trying to prevent any of the torture carried out by his subordinates.
Given the high degree of credibility of the testimony of Leonor Cipriano, which is now not only supported by her brother John Cipriano, but also by Anthony David Leandro Silva, her partner and father of her two youngest children, and above all by the absolutely credible testimony of the Director of Odemira Prison, Dr. Ana Maria Calado, and in fact supported by medical expertise, I believe this is a case where there is clear prima facie evidence of a crime of torture perpetrated by officials of the Portuguese Judicial Police on Leonor Cipriano.
It is completely unacceptable that officials of the Policia Judiciara continue to use medieval methods to obtain confessions at all costs, even if they are false. Remember that during the Spanish Inquisition 600 years ago, you would have been tortured to death if you refused to admit that you were guilty of witchcraft.
This behaviour from one of the key organs of the state - from police officers of the national Judiciary Police - is highly detrimental to the image of Portugal, which is now completely under the rule of law, is now an active a member of the European Union, and a defender of human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Such medieval conduct should be thoroughly dealt with in case it deals a further blow to the trust of Portuguese and foreign citizens in the Portuguese legal system.
In fact an authority such as the Policia Judiciara, given that it is responsible for ensuring that people comply with the law, has a much increased duty, compared with the ordinary citizen, to set an example of complying with the law. The crime of these inspectors has special moral and legal considerations.
We need to re-establish and maintain the parameters of the rule of law that constitutionally enshrine democratic Portugal. Unless this Cipriano case is dealt with properly, there is a risk that our country could once again be ranked, nationally and internationally, as a fascist country, as has already been insinuated in some foreign newspapers.
We can not fail to highlight the parallels between the cases of the disappearance of Joana Cipriano and that of Madeleine McCann. Both disappeared a few miles away from each other, and both cases were investigated by the same Department of Criminal Investigation of Portimão's Judicial Police.
In the first case, no valid evidence was collected against Leonor Cipriano. In the second case, there has been a succession of unpunished leakages of information arising from the PJ's investigation. There have been repeated stories leaked to the national press where it refers to 'a PJ source' or 'a source close to the investigation', and so forth. In the second case, that of Madeleine, there is, despite the scattergun release of so-called 'information', absolutely no evidence against Kate and Gerry McCann. This was implicitly admitted by the Director of the PJ himself, Alipio Ribero, when he declared that making the McCanns 'arguidos' was 'hasty'.
By contrast, the suspects, Kate and Gerry McCann, are prohibited from discussing the case to the press, preventing them from exercising their legitimate right to defend themselves against slander promoted all the time by so-called 'sources close to the investigation'.
Read for example the appalling article written by the Fondation Princesse de Croÿ, with the very direct title: "Madeleine McCann possibly eaten by Portuguese pigs" – (see http://fondationprincessedecroy.over-blog.org/article-12736754.html)
This article reveals how in Canada the international image of the Portuguese judicial authorities and of Portugal itself is being tarnished.
It is therefore necessary that the Portuguese state eliminates once and for all the persistent attacks on human rights that are still raging with impunity, especially in the Portguese police and amongst those who claim to be agents of law and defenders of those rights at a national level.
This should lead not only to the punishment of the offenders, because that only indirectly prevents further abuse by the state authorities, but also to our taking direct preventive action.
We need to make a strong and pro-active effort to eliminate any development within all the organs of the police authorities that are not the result of a genuine training in all the technical, disciplinary, legal and moral components of modern policing, both in theory and practice.
Portimão, 08 April 2008