By James Murray
Investigators working for Kate and Gerry McCann are trying to discover if a Portuguese lorry driver facing prosecution for child kidnapping is linked to the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.
They are looking into whether the 34-year-old accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old Portuguese boy was in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, when Madeleine vanished nearly four years ago.
Rui Pedro Teixeira Mendonca vanished from his home town of Lousado, near Porto in the north of the country, in March 1998. Detectives believe he was kidnapped while walking home from school and taken to a prostitute who was paid to have sex with him.
Shortly after he was snatched there was also an unconfirmed sighting of the boy at Disneyland in Paris with a middle-aged man, suggesting he could have been moved around Europe by a paedophile gang.
In 2001 his mother was flown to Switzerland to see if a child sex video seized in that country contained footage of her son.
A breakthrough in the case was made when the prostitute allegedly confessed that she had been with the boy. She confirmed the suspect was seen with Rui Pedro on the day he vanished.
Former British detectives working as private investigators for Kate and Gerry McCann will now try to discover the movements of the suspect over the past 13 years. The Sunday Express knows the identity of the man, but cannot name him for legal reasons. It is understood he travelled extensively around Portugal.
Dave Edgar, the McCann’s main investigator, is keen to know if he has ever visited the Algarve, and in particular the resort from where Madeleine was kidnapped in May, 2007.
The man lived in Lousada but moved away after the disappearance of Rui Pedro and is believed to be married with a small child.
Detectives have passed a file on the case to a court for prosecution on child kidnapping. It is expected the suspect will be arrested and questioned in the coming weeks. In the past Rui Pedro’s mother Filomena has sent several messages of support to Kate and Gerry McCann. Pictures of both missing children appear on a missing persons’ website in Portugal.
After Madeleine disappeared, Filomena said: “When I saw the news about the disappearance of the English girl I was terrified. I immediately thought of my son, even though the cases are different, and I thought of Madeleine’s parents, the anguish they are suffering.”
Three years ago the suspect, who admits being with the boy on the day he disappeared, said: “As far as Rui Pedro is concerned, the thing I want most in the world is that he appears.
“I never denied being with him. But I never saw him again after we parted company that day and I haven’t a clue what happened to him.”
in: Sunday Express, March 6, 2011
Madeleine McCann flat to be let again
The holiday flat from which Madeleine McCann vanished is being put up for rental in the spring
By Sunday Express reporter
THE holiday flat from which Madeleine McCann vanished is being put up for rental in the spring after attempts to sell it failed, writes James Murray.
The disappearance of the three-year-old on May 3, 2007, made Apartment 5a of the Ocean Club in Praia de Luz on the Algarve notorious and over the past three summers it has been empty.
A year later, the owner, Ruth McCann of Liverpool, who is not related to Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry, tried to sell the property. The asking price was about £225,000 but she had no luck.
A source said: “It has been incredibly difficult for Ruth. She has money tied up in the property and needs to get it back.
“It was on the market for quite a time but there was never any real interest.
“Now it is hoped that people can finally move on and see the place as just a lovely apartment.
“The hope is that when some people rent it and the locals see that, then gradually people will stop associating the property with Madeleine.”
However, memories will be stirred up again on May 12 when Kate McCann publishes her book, Madeleine. She will undertake a round of interviews in Europe and America to try to keep the case in the public eye and to raise funds to continue the hunt for her lost daughter.
in : Sunday Express , March 6, 2011
Extra weekend spin
Secret video of Maddie suspect
News of the World
MADELEINE McCann suspect Raymond Hewlett said his wife would "go mental" if she was asked about the missing girl in a dramatic video recorded before his ...
Last Weekend Spin (Thanks to Nige at the McCann Files)
Kate plea to perv's widow
News of the World (paper edition)
Mum to mum ... please tell
EXCLUSIVE By Matthew Drake
Sunday 27 Feb 2011
HEARTBROKEN Kate McCann is pleading with the widow of a dead paedophile to break her silence in the hunt for snatched daughter Madeleine.
But Mariana Schmuecker – herself a mother of six -has snubbed FOUR requests to reveal secrets about her husband, convicted child rapist Raymond Hewlett.
Detectives believe what she knows could hold the vital key to their investigation.
When the News of the World confronted her the callous German just snarled: "Clear off! I'm sick to death of hearing about Maddie McCann!".
Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry desperately want Mariana to shed light on Hewlett's links with child-sex perverts in Portugal’s Algarve, where three-year-old Maddie vanished in May 2007.
Ex-fairground worker Hewlett bore a striking resemblence to the straggly-haired man seen lurking near the McCanns' holiday apartment.
His previous conviction included the rape of a 12-year-old girl he lured into his car then drugged with paint stripper. And he was bragged how gipsies had offered him "good money" for his own blonde-haired daughter aged two.
But Mariana, who suddenly shipped off to Morocco with Hewlett just three weeks after Maddie's disappearance, has stayed tight- lipped – even about her partner's flawed alibi.
Hewlett claimed that on the Thursday Madeleine (right) was abducted he was with his family at a market up the coast in Fuzets. But that market is only held on Saturdays. A source close to the McCanns told us: "Through detectives Kate has begged Mariana to speak out and hopes she will do the right thing. As a mother herself you'd think she'd want to help."
Mariana lives with her kids in the German city of Aachen, in the same flat she shared with Hewlett before he died two years ago of throat cancer at 64.
A source close to the investigation said: "Our detectives are pretty certain Mariana knows a lot about Hewlett's background and activities. That would open up doors to paedophile networks in the Algarve.
"We were never able to rule Hewlett out as a suspect. He'd have had useful information and we're convinced Mariana is more than able to fill in the gaps. But she just tells us to go away or puts the phone down."
"We want to know WHO she knows, and WHAT she's heard about possible routes to spirit a child out of the country."
"She and Hewlett left Portugal at a rate of knots because he feared being associated with Madeleine's disappearance."
"We wanted to know about the six children Mariana and Hewlett had because none of them had any official birth documents. And there was a seventh child who died in mysterious circumstances."
"They never explained how they could move from country to country with the children despite having no passports."
New Maddie hope
By Jonathan Corke
27th February 2011
MADELEINE McCann's parents hope a major police breakthrough against human trafficking in Portugal's Algarve might lead them to their missing daughter.
We can reveal how, in a huge bust earlier this month, 12 men were arrested on suspicion of trafficking women and children and forcing them into the sex trade.
And it is hoped they could have vital information on Madeleine's case and may even know who took her from the resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.
Last night Madeleine's parents, doctors Kate and Gerry McCann, both 42, were anxiously waiting to hear of any new lines of inquiry.
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Clearly any information that the Portuguese authorities gather from this operation that is relevant to Madeleine would be of crucial importance.
"Obviously, Kate and Gerry will want to hear from the relevant authorities should anything of significance develop."
The raid, codenamed Operation Roadbook, saw immigration officials from Portugal's SEF border security agency and police join forces to smash the network.
According to detectives, 30 young women, including several under-age girls, were rescued as eight properties and 11 cars were raided across the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of Portugal.
The SEF said they believe the ring to be responsible for the sexual exploitation of "many" young women in the Algarve.
In a statement they said: "The network used very violent physical and psychological coercion to force dozens of young women into prostitution.
"Some of the women were found to be underage while others had been the victims of the forced administration of narcotics."
According to the SEF, the gang constantly moved the girls to different locations, both in Portugal and outside the country, where they would be sold and traded.
"The movement of the prostitutes between different networks hindered the police and judicial authorities in being able to conduct a criminal investigation.
"But authorities in Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany co-operated with us with the assistance of Europol in this case."
A police source said missing persons cases in the Algarve were being looked at as a result of the sting.
Madeleine, from Rothley, Leics, was just three when she vanished from the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve nearly four years ago.
Investigators trying to track down the missing girl have long suspected her to be the victim of a professional human trafficking network.
A source said: "Even if these men were not involved they may have information about who was and the channels used."
The 12 men, who are all EU citizens, are being held in custody with court hearings taking place in the main Algarve tourist city of Albufeira.
Note - the original article published on February 9, 2011 at Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) site makes no mention of Madeleine McCann.