Girl mistaken for Maddie is Belgian

20th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

20 August 2007, BRUSSELS (AFP) - A reported sighting in Belgium of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann turned out to be a false alarm, police said Saturday.

20 August 2007

BRUSSELS (AFP) - A reported sighting in Belgium of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann turned out to be a false alarm, police said Saturday.

The ill-at-ease behaviour displayed by a blonde girl and spotted by a child psychologist had been due to a first-time meeting with her father's girlfriend, they said.

Last month the psychologist reported to police that she had seen a girl closely resembling the British youngster, who disappeared in Portugal in May, in a cafe in Tongeren, eastern Belgium.  

The girl in Belgium was accompanied by a man speaking with a Dutch accent and a women speaking English, both with dark hair, in the town near the Dutch border.

Belgian police issued a photofit picture of the man and ran some fruitless DNA tests on a glass and drinking straw left at the table where they had been sitting.

In order to end the media speculation over the case, police organised a press conference in Tongeren on Saturday and presented all three main players to reporters.

Ed Hofstede revealed himself as the face in the identikit picture. Police had tracked him down by his car number plate. He also introduced his four-year-old daughter Sjanneke, who normally lives with her mother, Hofstede's former wife.

"He had been with his Polish girlfriend and his daughter on a (cafe) terrace," when the trio were spotted, a Tongeren police spokesman said.

The man lived in the northern Flemish region of Belgium and spoke Dutch while "his girlfriend spoke English. The girl was a little ill-at-ease because it was the first time that she had met her father's girlfriend," the spokesman said.

"There are lots of girls with long blonde hair who could look like the little British girl," he added.

Reporters from across Europe have flocked to the small town of Praia da Luz in southern Portugal Algarve region since young Madeleine disappeared on 3 May, just before her fourth birthday.

The only named suspect in the case in 33-year-old Briton Robert Murat who lives near to the hotel where the girl went missing.

Her parents Kate and Gerry left Madeleine and her twin two-year-old siblings Sean and Amelie alone in the hotel suite where they were staying on the night the girl vanished while they dined at the hotel restaurant with friends.

[Copyright AFP 2007]

Subject: Belgian news, Dutch news

0 Comments To This Article