Former PJ police colleagues Paulo Pereira Cristovão (pictured left) and Gonçalo Amaral, who also authored a book on Madeleine's disappearance (right) pictured outside the Faro Court in 2008. (Photo: Lusa)

Paulo Pereira Cristovão was arrested this week as his former colleagues drew nearer to concluding an investigation
initiated in July 2014 related to a series of criminal charges. Up until this week, investigations had resulted in the arrest of 12 people, including three PSP police officers.
Cristovão, also a former president of the Portuguese Association for Missing Children, has been linked to these 12 suspects and is said to have worked on “identifying potential victims who would then be robbed inside their homes. These robberies would be undertaken by police officers simulating house searches, armed with forged legal warrants. On occasion, these searches would be conducted by officers dressed in their respective uniforms”, culminating in robberies, PJ sources said, following the announcement of Cristovão’s arrest.
Police further explained that these crimes took place in the Greater Lisbon Area and Setúbal to the south, with the assailants often resorting to violence in order to establish where their victims had hidden cash or items of considerable value.
A statement issued by PJ police reveals that three men, aged between 37 and 49, among them Cristivão, 45, were detained by the National Anti-Terrorism Unit on charges which included the use of illegal firearms in a series armed robberies, with victims often being taken against their will.
The trio arrested on Tuesday are alleged to have been responsible for identifying targets for the subsequent and usually violent robberies perpetrated by their 12 accomplices.
Cristovão also worked on the case involving the disappearance of Joana Cipriano, who was eight when she went missing in 2004 from her mother’s home in Figueira, located between Portimão and Lagos in the Algarve.
He was later accused of being present as his colleagues allegedly extracted a confession from Joana’s mother by resorting to physical violence. Leonor Cipriano signed a confession, but retracted it a day later alleging she had been beaten by police officers. According to police, the bruising on her face was due to her having fallen down a flight of stairs at the police station during the interrogation.
Cristovão was later cleared by a Faro court of any wrong-doing, but resigned from PJ police shortly afterwards.
He also published a book on the disappearance of Joana, of whom there is still no trace.
A decision by a Lisbon court is expected shortly, and in the event of deciding to remand the ex-police detective in custody, he would likely be held at the Évora prison where former Prime Minister José Sócrates is currently being kept pending further investigations.

* Article amended on 7 March to include photo caption