Madeleine files hint at "Belgian pedophile link"

13th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Information released this week by Portuguese police showed that Scotland Yard passed on a tip that a photograph of the child on holiday in Portugal was passed to a "purchaser" in Belgium days before she vanished.

London -- British toddler Madeleine McCann may have been abducted "to order" for a pedophile ring in Belgium where she was allegedly sighted soon after her disappearance from a holiday apartment in Portugal 15 months ago, according to police files.

Information released this week by Portuguese police showed that Scotland Yard passed on a tip-off from an informant to its specialist vice unit who said a photograph of the child on holiday in Portugal was taken and passed to a "purchaser" in Belgium days before she vanished on May 3, 2007.

The files also revealed that a Belgian woman reported seeing a young girl who looked "very much like Madeleine" with an Eastern European couple on a tram in Brussels on May 15, 2007, 12 days after she disappeared.

Line Compere, 31, told Belgian police her suspicions were aroused because the man and woman with the youngster did not look like her, appeared to be speaking a different language from her and did not seem to know her well.

Private detectives acting for the parents of four-year-old Madeleine, Kate and Gerry, were taking the "Belgian link" very seriously and would follow up all the information now available on the case, friends of the family said.

"Trafficking into Belgium forms a very strong part of their investigations, as does trafficking into North Africa," a friend of the parents in Britain said.

"The private investigators, as with all the other sightings and all the other information, will be pursuing this line as an absolute priority to establish if it has been fully investigated and properly ruled out," Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCann's, said.

On Wednesday, information released from the Portuguese files showed that a Dutch woman, Anna Stam, told police she believed she had seen Madeleine in a shop in Amsterdam in May, 2007, accompanied by a man appearing to speak Portuguese and a woman speaking English.

Stam told British broadcaster ITV that she gained the impression during her interviews with Dutch detectives that "more could have been done" by police to find Madeleine a year ago.

"Maybe not even the Dutch police but more the British or Portuguese police because at that time I remember the police told me they were suspecting the parents themselves," Stam said.

"I thought it was crazy to think that but that's maybe why they didn't do something with it," she added.

The latest information on the alleged Belgian pedophile link was contained in an e-mail from Scotland Yard, and Portuguese police pursued the lead with Interpol, which gathered further reports from Belgium, Britain, Finland and Germany.

But Portuguese chief detective Paulo Rebelo, head of the Madeleine inquiry, ruled that all but the German intelligence showed a "lack of credibility" and ordered that the tip-off should be filed.

"Intelligence suggests that a pedophile ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine McCann was taken," the e-mail said.

"The purchaser agreed that the girl was suitable and Maddie was taken," it added.

DPA with Expatica

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