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Sleuth tells cops: Maddie is in US.. I know who took her

Original Source:  SUN: FRIDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2011
From EMILY NASH and JON CLARKE in Huelva, Spain
Published: Today

AN INVESTIGATOR has told cops Madeleine McCann was taken to the US - and he has named two key suspects.

Marcelino Italiano, 36, said she had been snatched by an Algarve-based paedophile ring. The amateur sleuth added: "They can get away with anything."

Maddie vanished in Portugal in May 2007.

Angolan-born Italiano said the gang of influential and dangerous perverts had hunted children in the Algarve before smuggling them out of Portugal.


And he told how he had to flee for his life when his investigations threatened to unmask them.

The 6ft 4in nightclub bouncer said: "I know these people were involved and I have been told that Madeleine may now be in America.

"I can't say how, but I have known these people and believe they can get away with anything. "I think there have been over a dozen children kidnapped. They prey on the weak and vulnerable."  

 Italiano, 36, said the ring was based in Faro and Albufeira, but had high-level contacts in Portugal's judiciary and links to a legal practice in London.

He added: "They are ruthless. I have been attacked twice for trying to investigate it and even lost my front tooth in one attack.

"I am prepared to go to any length to reveal the truth about these sick people - they need to be exposed." Italiano has handed a dossier of information he uncovered to police in Huelva, south west Spain.

He says it includes the names of two prominent Portuguese businessmen and provided photographs of them at a birthday party in the Algarve.

Officers have passed the information to Portuguese cops while private investigators hired by the Find Madeleine Fund - set up by her parents Kate and Gerry - are also looking into the dramatic claims.


They chillingly echo the case of the Casa Pia paedophile ring, which involved the abduction of youngsters from state-run orphanages.

In September six men including a solicitor, a former ambassador and a TV presenter were jailed for sexually abusing 32 children living at Casa Pia homes across Portugal.


One of the chief witnesses, former resident Paulo Namora, told the trial that many of the group's wealthy members were based in the Algarve.

Last night a lawyer acting on behalf of Italiano told The Sun her client had a "credible and believable story". She added: "He told the police he believed Maddie was taken by the gang and he believes she may now be in the US."

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry, of Rothley, Leics, said: "We are grateful for the information.


'As with any information of this nature the man concerned has done the right thing by informing the Spanish authorities.

"Clearly it will be a matter for them and the private investigators currently searching for Madeleine to investigate further."

Maddie was about to turn four when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.

Bungling Portuguese police named her parents as suspects before clearing them.

In 2008 detectives looked into suggestions that Maddie may have been taken "to order" by a child smuggling ring based in Belgium. Scotland Yard intelligence officer John Shord sent Leicestershire police an email reporting: "Somebody connected to this group saw Maddie, took a photograph of her and sent it to Belgium. The purchaser agreed that the girl was suitable and Maddie was taken."

Some of the information, which came from an anonymous source, was dismissed as not credible.

And both Portuguese police and Interpol were unable to unearth further details. Meanwhile the McCanns' team of investigators have interviewed hundreds of witnesses, received more than 1,000 phone calls and dealt with more than 15,000 emails from people from across the globe.

Sightings have been reported across Europe and North Africa and as far away as Canada, Tasmania and Dubai.

Go to Astro's comment on Casa Pia case


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