Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Did Kidnappers Pass Her on to Moroccans Seen in This Picture? (1) New Hope: The McCanns (2) Riddle: The Group of North Africans on a Road in Morocco with a Woman Carrying a Small Blonde Girl Who Looks Strikingly like Madeleine

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Did Kidnappers Pass Her on to Moroccans Seen in This Picture? (1) New Hope: The McCanns (2) Riddle: The Group of North Africans on a Road in Morocco with a Woman Carrying a Small Blonde Girl Who Looks Strikingly like Madeleine

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT MENDICK

Could the photograph really be Madeleine?

The quality of the holiday snap, taken on 31 August in northern Morocco, isextremely grainy but the cut of the blonde hair has elicited enough interestfor sources close to Kate and Gerry McCann to describe the picture's emergenceas "a very promising lead". Its credibility is bolstered by three independentsightings of Madeleine in Morocco. It will now be analysed by experts from theChild Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which has usedstate-of-the-art facial recognition computer software to study thousands ofpictures sent in by holidaymakers in Praia da Luz.

How would Madeleine have got to Morocco?

The drive from Praia da Luz to Morocco is straightforward.

It's only about 90 miles to the Spanish border, where officials were notnotified Madeleine had vanished until several hours too late, and from there itis a further 220 miles to Algeciras, the main port from which ferries make theshort trip across the 21 miles of the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco.

Why would Madeleine have been taken to Morocco?

Morocco is a common route for people smugglingbut going in the opposite direction with Africans being brought illegally intoEurope via Spain. Hashish is also commonly smuggled into Europe this way.

Quite why smugglers would take a blonde British girl into a country where shewould stand out so obviously will be something British and Portugueseinvestigators will be wanting answers to. One theory is she was taken by achildless couple who smuggled her into Morocco but then gave her away becauseof the attention surrounding the case. Another may be that a gang ofpaedophiles took her and then gave her away..

Who are the other people in the photograph?

The group appear to be itinerant Moroccans, led by a man pushing a wheelbarrowcontaining several suitcases.

Behind him is a young woman with a suitcase on her back, a young girl and thena woman wearing a colourful hat and scarf, with a blonde girl on her back. …

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