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Byline: BY MARTIN FRICKER in Portimao

BRITISH police were told in March that Madeleine was snatched to order by a Belgian paedophile gang, it was revealed last night.

Cops received intelligence that she was photographed by a pervert in Portugal and her picture passed on to the ring for approval three days before she vanished.

The news came as another woman in Amsterdam told police she saw Madeleine days after she vanished.

The claims about the gang were made in an email that Scotland Yard's CO14 vice unit chief John Shord sent to Leicestershire Police. He wrote: "Intelligence suggests a paedophile ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before mm was taken.

"Somebody saw Maddie, took a photo of her and sent it. The purchaser agreed the girl was suitable and Maddie was taken." But Leicestershire police did not forward this to Portuguese detectives until April 21. Officers in Portimao sent an urgent fax to Interpol in Lisbon on April 28. Interpol replied on May 23 with information from its bureaux in Brussels, London, Germany and Finland. Police chief Paulo Rebelo ordered the information be placed in the case file and the Portuguese investigation was shut down less than two months later.

Kate and Gerry's private detectives went to Spain's Costa Brava in January to probe paedophile networks in the area with links to countries including Belgium.

Last night, a friend of the McCanns said: "Trafficking to Belgium forms a strong part of investigations. They have looked into the fact someone was targeting children and may have been stealing to order."

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Private investigators will pursue this line as a priority to establish if it has been investigated."

Meanwhile, news of two sightings by Hannie Wiechmann, 71, increased the focus of the McCanns' private investigation on the Dutch capital. On Tuesday, shopkeeper Ana Stam, 41, said she saw Madeleine in the city. She insisted she saw her twice "but "nothing was done". The women contacted police separately.

Hannie was walking her dog when she noticed a girl she was convinced was Madeleine with a woman about 30 to 35. She was sure she also saw her a week later.


I JUST KNEW IT WAS HER But Hannie says cops did nothing; SIGHTING Witness Ana
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2008
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