The final ruling in the trial of the so-called “Leonor Cipriano case”, in which two of the five Polícia Judiciária (PJ) inspectors and former inspectors were condemned, ended up revealing itself as atypical as the process: the court of Faro considered that the practise of torture was proved but failed to indicate who the alleged aggressors were.
During all of the court sessions, no witnesses to the alleged torture acts were presented and the final ruling ended up being based on the reports from forensic experts, which were not founded on a physical exam of Leonor Cipriano, but rather on photographs that had been published years earlier by Expresso, and whose authenticity is still questioned.
Given the importance that was attributed to the photographs, it is strange that the court didn’t consider the doubts that persist concerning their origin. Doubts that could have been clarified if the defence had been permitted to hear the former journalist that was behind their publication, who is now the head of the Lawyers’ Order – through the cunning decision of entering the Order as an assistant in the process, Marinho Pinto kept the control over the proceedings in the Court of Faro, and at the same time escaped questioning.
Reading the final ruling, one can conclude that the court sustained its decision on the photographs, credible or not, as it couldn’t base itself on Leonor Cipriano who throughout the process gave several contradictory statements, thus confirming the analysis that had been made by Paulo Sargento, who described her as a compulsive liar.
Leonor changed her version about the manner in which she was aggressed, the dates and times, several times, but also the place where everything took place, and even her aggressors: one day she directly implied former coordinator Gonçalo Amaral, the next day she confessed that she hadn’t even seen him on the day of questioning.
Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, Leonel Marques and Paulo Marques Bom, who stood accused of torture, were found innocent, while António Cardoso and Gonçalo Amaral were condemned to suspended sentences: two years and three months and one year and six months in prison, respectively.
The “snowball” effect
António Cardoso’s report, which earned him his condemnation, and in which the inspector merely described in what manner Leonor Cipriano fell on the stairs, was not handed over to the scientific police’s lab, where an expert could have found a false signature, a changed date or even the replacement of excerpts of the text: presiding judge Henrique Pavão, in the name of the collective, upon considering that torture was proved, automatically removed the value of Cardoso’s report – if there was torture, then the report has to be false.
It is within this context that former PJ coordinator, Gonçalo Amaral, ends up being condemned: saying that torture existed, is to state that Cardoso lied when he wrote his service report, therefore – no matter whether he tells the truth or a lie – Amaral had to be condemned. Wasn’t that the initial goal?
– Like the French say, “c’était Q. F. D.”
◊ translated by Astro from Joana Morais blog.