viernes, 7 de agosto de 2009

Caso Madeleinen McCann - Búsqueda de una parecida a Victoria Beckham en el caso Madeleine McCann

Pendiente de traducción

Charles Miranda, Peter Wilson

August 06, 2009 08:37am

UPDATE 8.38pm: MADELEINE McCann's family hope an Aussie woman is "the piece in the jigsaw" that could solve her disappearance.

Investigators said today the woman in her 30s, with an Aussie or Kiwi accent, and a "Victoria Beckham lookalike" is being sought over the Madeleine McCann mystery

In a media conference just after 8pm Australian eastern time, a spokesman for the McCann’s said they hoped Australian media would widely distribute an image of a woman being sought over the case in a bid to track down the new lead.

Investigators hired by Madeleine's parents say the woman said something to two British men which suggested that she knew about the fate of the then three-year-old.

It's the latest twist in the investigation just over two years after the English girl went missing.

A police artist's portrait based on descriptions by the witnesses shows a woman estimated at 30 to 35 years old who was short, slim and had short brown hair.

Dave Edgar, one of two retired detectives contracted by Kate and Gerry to find their daughter, led the evening media conference (Melbourne time) with details of the woman and a DVD of sketch images of the person they wish to speak with.

A family spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said the conversation between the witness and the woman was “potentially significant to her disappearance”, and said the family had never let up in their hunt for the missing girl.

“They wait to hear, and until they do they will not invest hope in it or lose their spirits,” Mr Mitchell said.

“They are searching for Madeleine with every breath they take, and they will never give up in their search for her.”

He said the family “were at their highest” when there was “momentum” in the case as now.

Investigator Dave Edgar issued a public appeal for the woman to approach them.

“Come forward and speak with us. It could be something innocent and a reasonable explanation for the conversation,” Mr Edgar said.

“If we get any strong lines of inquiry we will hand over the investigation to the authorities."

Mr Edgar said the witness recognised he “should have come forward earlier”, but the detective was pleased more than disappointed that there had been a “significant development”.

Investigators would not be detailing information about the conversation, and said the British witness did not want to be identified.

He said while the witness had been drinking, he had provided a “very good profile” and a good description of the woman.

The witness, he said, had noticed a pretty petite woman pacing up and down outside the Barcelona marina bar for about 10 minutes.

He eventually went out to ask her if everything was okay and had a short conversation. He said she looked agitated, was sober and he asked if he could help her.

He later saw the woman in the bar sometime later and after someone bumped her on her stool, she abused them in Catalan and he realised she was bilingual.

Mr Edgar would not say what the conversation the pair had was, how it was related to Madeleine or why the man has only come forward now but described his evidence as significant and the witness extremely credible.

"The man is a very credible witness, a professional man and we take his evidence on face value", Mr Edgar said.

"We describe this woman as a significant person, the conversation they had was significant and that is why we are here today," he said.

"I wouldn't be sitting here with an appeal if we didnt think it significant."

He said the sketch of the woman, drawn by police, was based on the witnesses description of her which was attractive, short brown hair, with a "Victoria Beckham" look, slim build about 5'2 tall.

He asked for Australians who had already contacted the McCann search hotline to call them again.

He said there had been a large number of calls from Australia prior to yesterday's appeal although not related to the incident.

The woman is described as "a bit of a Victoria Beckham lookalike" and was in the Spanish city of Barcelona in May 2007, three days after Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal, The Australian reports.

One of the British men has told investigators that the woman had an Australian or New Zealand accent, while the second witness said it was Australian.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told The Australian that Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate McCann still believed they might find their daughter alive and they viewed the new hunt for this woman as one of the strongest leads uncovered during the entire investigation.

However, the Australian Federal Police insists it is not searching for Madeleine despite the fresh reports.

The woman is described as being about 157.5 cm (5 foot 2 inches), with a slim build and was wearing expensive-looking blue jeans and a jersey top, possibly in a pastel color.

She is believed to speak excellent Spanish, possibly Catalan.

The two English witnesses say they noticed her when they were drinking in bars at a popular Barcelona marina at about 2am on May 7, 2007, just over 72 hours after Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment in the seaside resort of Praia da Luz, about 13 hours drive away.

The men had been moving between bars and restaurants in the Port Olimpic Marina, a Barcelona area popular with both tourists and locals, when one of the witnesses noticed the well-dressed woman, who he says appeared agitated.

She was walking up and down outside the El Ray de la Gamba restaurant bar for about 10 minutes and appeared to be waiting for somebody.

The first witness, a 41-year-old British man, approached her and they had a short conversation in which she apparently thought he was the person she was waiting to meet.

It was what she said before realising that he was not the person she expected that has convinced the investigators that she may have information about Madeleine.

The woman then sat down in another bar nearby, where the second witness from the group of British men also noticed her.

At one point the woman had a brief angry conversation with somebody else, who may have bumped her, and the witnesses said she seemed to speak fluent Spanish. She was last seen walking away towards a local hospital and the more distant ferry and cruise ship terminals.

Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, as her parents and their adult friends dined nearby.

The toddler, who would now be six, has become one of the highest profile missing persons cases in the world with her parents spending millions of dollars to find her with the aid of high profile backers including businessman Richard Branson and David Beckham.

Various leads have led to the hunt for the toddler in Spain, Morocco, Belgium, Holland and now apparently Australia.

In June, Mr Edgar flew to Germany after a convicted 64-year-old British pedophile was linked to the case since he was in the area at the time of her disappearance.

While the Portuguese police closed the books on the case a year ago, British police have now spent more than $1.5 million looking into the suspected kidnapping.

Official figures released on Monday show police in Leicestershire, the McCann hometown, spent more than $1.3 million in 2007-08 and another $400,000 in 2008-09.

In September 2007 Mr and Mrs McCann were made formal suspects or "arguidos" in the case by Portuguese police who later admitted they made mistakes and lifted the status.

The latest message from Kate and Gerry on the Find Maddie website reads: "It is now more than two years since Madeleine was taken from us – more than two years since we saw and held our beautiful daughter, since Sean and Amelie played with their big sister, since we were a happy family of five.

"Without doubt, two years seems a huge proportion of your life when you’re six years old, but in reality it is just a tiny fraction of the life which lies ahead of you. It is important for us to keep looking forward.

"Whilst the fact that Madeleine is still missing remains our greatest anxiety, it is important to remember that the person who took Madeleine remains free.

"Other children could be at risk from this person too if we do not continue with our investigation, or if the people who know or suspect something remain silent."

- Investigators have asked anyone who may know the woman to contact them by emailing or calling +44 845 838 4699.

Read more on this story at The Australian

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