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PORTUGUESE PAEDOPHILE GANG 'TOOK MADELEINE' New theory as police hunt stepped up.

Byline: TOM PETTIFOR Crime Correspondent

MADELEINE McCann was snatched by a paedophile ring, it was claimed yesterday after a fresh police probe.

A team of six Portuguese detectives are investigating the theory that the three-year-old girl was taken by a gang in the Algarve.

An unnamed source said in a Portuguese newspaper yesterday: "The work of the Policia Judiciaria inspectors is based on a line of investigation which points to paedophile rings in the Algarve."

A number of convicted British paedophiles thought to have been in Portugal when Madeleine vanished are also believed to feature in a new list of 41 potential suspects drawn up by the Met.

Paedophile networks with UK connections are believed to have been operating in Portugal for years because of lax sex offence laws. It is one of only two countries in Europe without a sex offenders' register.

The Portuguese claim comes after Met Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said he too has a new theory about Maddy's disappearance.

Scotland Yard has raised hopes of a breakthrough after an unprecedented "targeted attack" on the phone data of holidaymakers from 31 countries in the Praia da Luz area on May 3, 2007, when she went missing.

They have found three more potential suspects than before.

Kate McCann wrote of her fear that her daughter was kidnapped by a paedophile in her 2011 book. She accused Portuguese police of covering up a series of child abuse cases before Maddy vanished.

The McCanns were first warned of an alarming number of Algarve incidents by consul Bill Henderson.

Kate discovered five cases of British children being sexually abused in their beds while on holiday.

She wrote: "It broke my heart to read the terrible accounts of devastated parents and the experiences of their poor children. What these cases do demonstrate however, is that tourists in holiday accommodation were being targeted.

"It is so hard not to scream from the rooftops about how these crimes appear to have been brushed under the carpet."

An artist's impression of a man who may have abducted Madeleine was released six months after she went missing.

The image, drawn by an FBItrained forensic artist, shows a dark-haired man walking with a child cradled in his arms.

Kate and Gerry posed with a computer-generated image of what Madeleine might look like on the fifth anniversary of her disappearance last year.

The picture, created with the McCann family, shows how she would look aged nine.

The couple will appear in a TV appeal in light of "fresh, substantive material' unearthed by the Metropolitan Police probe.

And police are expected to reveal a new theory that they say will give a "different understanding" about the case.

The Crimewatch programme, which will be screened on October 14, will feature a reconstruction of the events on the night of Madeleine's disappearance.

Equivalent programmes in Germany and the Netherlands, where most other tourists in Praia da Luz come from, will also broadcast the material.

tom.pettifor@mirror.co.uk

A line of investigation points to paedophile rings in the Algarve. UNNAMED SOURCE PORTUGUESE NEWSPAPER

CAPTION(S):

MYSTERY Gang may have taken Madeleine from resort

APPEAL Kate and Gerry with image of how Maddy would look aged nine

SUSPECT An artist's impression
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 5, 2013
Words:540
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