Kate and Gerry McCann's
private detectives were last night pursuing new leads pointing
to a possible Belgian paedophile gang link to their daughter
Three potential sightings in
Belgium emerged in the official police files released this week.
The McCann's investigators are
also looking into a Scotland Yard report suggesting the child
may have been snatched to order for a Belgian paedophile ring,
despite a warning that the intelligence is 'flawed'.
A woman reported seeing a young
girl who looked 'very much' like Madeleine with an eastern
European-looking couple on a tram in Brussels 12 days after she
vanished, the files reveal.
Line Compere, 31, told Belgian
police she saw the blonde-haired, blue-eyed child on the number
18 tram heading towards the main Midi railway station on the
May 15 last year.
When I saw the photo
in question, it immediately jumped out to me that
there was a big resemblance to the little girl on
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.
At that point she had never seen
a photograph of Madeleine but later that day she was shown a
picture of the missing girl.
Ms Compere told police: 'When I
saw the photo in question, it immediately jumped out to me that
there was a big resemblance to the little girl on the tram.'
Ms Compere, a music journalist,
yesterday described the moment she saw the couple and the child
who looked like Madeleine.
She said: 'I made the sighting on
a tram. We were on the number 18 tram from Porte d'Anderlecht
going towards the Gare du Midi.
'They got off and then got on to
the number 51 tram.
'She really looked like
Madeleine, but her hair was different. In the photos I saw of
Madeleine, she had a fringe, but this girl did not. She was
dressed all in pink and was in a pushchair.
'I was standing close to her and
saw her eyes. They were blue. But I did not notice any marking
on her eye.
'She was with a man and a woman,
both between 35 and 40 years old. They were white but had dark
hair and looked eastern European.
'They were both dressed in dark
clothes. The girl looked very different to the adults.'
She added: 'I was interviewed
once by Belgian police who launched an inquiry, and I gave them
all the details I knew.'
The report was passed on to the
Portuguese police but it is unclear what action was taken to
follow it up.
The files reveal that there was
another sighting in Belgium 12 days later.</[>
A Briton contacted police after
seeing a child asleep on a train from Brussels to Antwerp on May
27 and concluded that she could have been drugged. She was
accompanied by a balding, 6ft white man aged about 40 who was
wearing sports clothes. The man got off the train at Mechelen at
about 9.20pm, carrying the child.
Police made a formal request
through Interpol for the relevant railway stations and
surrounding areas to be checked for CCTV footage.
A third sighting of a girl who
looked like Madeleine with an English-speaking woman was made in
western Belgium, close to the French border. A witness told
police he saw the child in the O Cool shop on St Ackaire Road in
Mouscron between 4.30pm and 5.30pm on June 2.
He said the little girl had big
eyes and the 'pale face of a tired child'.
His suspicion raised, he watched
the pair, who were with a man, leave the shop and drive off in a
grey Renault Scenic. He told Belgian police: 'Once back home I
looked at a photo of the little McCann child and I was struck by
the resemblance to the girl I had seen in the shop.
'The only difference I noticed is
that the girl didn't have her hair cut with a fringe in front,
but the colour was the same.'
On June 7 Belgian police
contacted the shop's manager, but were told it had no CCTV
The latest sightings emerged
after reports of the youngster being spotted in neighbouring
Holland. Shopkeeper Anna Stam told how she spoke to a girl who
bore a strong resemblance to Madeleine.
Ms Stam said the girl came into
her party shop in Amsterdam in May last year. The youngster
claimed her name was Maddie, adding: 'They took me from my
It is understood investigators
for Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, Leicestershire, are
checking the Belgian connection. Last night the McCanns'
official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said they would follow up
all credible leads.
'Detectives from Holland will be
speaking to Anna Stam within the next two to three days.
'We use agencies all over the
world. For example, there was a sighting in Chile a couple of
months ago and we had people on the ground, in the building
where she was supposed to have been seen, in three hours.
Interpol would have taken days to get the same information.'
Madeleine was nearly four when
she vanished from her family's holiday flat in the Algarve
resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.
Portuguese prosecutors announced last month that they were
shelving the case, although it can be reopened if new evidence
comes to light