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Missing Maddie – 22nd June

Posted by cotojo on June 22, 2007

Police now have some new leads in the search for missing Madeleine McCann — that gipsies may have snatched her.  

A holidaymaker revealed he spotted a fair-skinned little blonde girl in the back of a horse-drawn cart three weeks ago. 

Ex pilot Andre van Wyk, 66, told how a woman in the cart quickly covered the sleeping child’s face with a shawl. 

He was so suspicious he trailed the cart to a gipsy camp ten miles from where Maddie, four, vanished 50 days ago in Portugal’s Algarve. 

Van Wyk he said: “I followed it to what looked like a gipsy camp next to the old bridge at Portimao.  I saw an impeccably dressed blonde woman collect the blonde child from the older dark-skinned woman who had been carrying her. I assumed the blonde woman was the mother and that they were in some way innocently connected to the gipsy group.  But it’s been playing on my mind ever since. The little girl looked so out of place.” 

Van Wyk, from South Africa, also described a strange encounter with a gipsy woman at Faro Airport as he checked in for a flight out of Portugal. She peered over his shoulder as he read an article about Maddie and said in broken English: “They no find girl with picture.”

She walked off after pointing at the photo of Madeleine and saying: “Hair cut short — hair black.” 

Van Wyk said: “It was very odd. I had no idea if she was trying to tell me something she knew or whether she was just giving me her opinion.”  

Details of the exact location of the site were being passed on to Portuguese police. Cops there faced fresh criticism yesterday as they axed a press update amid mounting concern about their handling of the case. 

A British tourist also told how he saw a child resembling Maddie McCann in Malta. 

Ray Roberts, 49, was in Sliema when he saw the girl wearing what appeared to be a jet black wig.

The sighting is one of FIVE independent reports by witnesses convinced they have seen kidnapped Maddie, four, in Malta. 

Statements have been given to investigating magistrate Miriam Haymann. She has been appointed to oversee an inquiry in Malta sparked by the five possible sightings. 

The first was in the capital Valletta last Saturday by a British couple who told authorities they had seen a blonde girl they believed to be Maddie with “suspicious” adults. 

They took the unusual step of testifying before a local judge. 

Another sighting was on Sunday, and was reported to police on Wednesday. 

Last night it emerged police had been informed of three more sightings on Wednesday and yesterday. 

Assistant Commissioner Michael Cassar confirmed Malta’s police are taking the reports very seriously. The search is being led by the vice squad, who are liaising with Interpol.

A police source added: “If Madeleine is on this island we are determined to find her.” 

After the first sighting, police carried out a street search, then launched intensive hunts in other parts of the island.  They are understood to be concentrating on two tourist areas — St George’s Bay and Rivera Martinique. 

A British police source said: “The whole world is waiting for news and all we get is a deafening silence.”

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