Friday, 8 August 2008

The Belgian network and the shadow of Toscano (*)

The information contained in the email written by the Metropolitan police officer, John Shord, to the Leicestershire police and sent to the Portuguese authorities, a few weeks later, stating that Madeleine McCann may have been kidnapped to order by a Belgian paedophile network is based on information circulated by Antonio Toscano, a so-called Spanish journalist who claimed to be an expert in abduction cases.

Toscano, who attributed Madeleine’s abduction to orders from a paedophile network to someone called “El Francés“, was interviewed several times by the Portuguese authorities, but his allegations were quickly ruled out after investigation. The Spaniard had even asked to meet Kate and Gerry McCann, who had refused.

The e-mail states that:”Intelligence suggests that a paedophile ring in Belgium (*) made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine McCann was taken,” adding that “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.”

According to a friend of the McCanns, quoted by The Telegraph, “trafficking into Belgium forms a very strong part of their investigation as does trafficking into north Africa.”

The information from the media is all the more surprising when one remembers that the majority of the British journalists received the same copy of the investigation procedure containing all the details of the work carried out by the PJ, in conjunction with the British police, concerning these revelations.

The Dutch witness statement was checked.

A Dutch police source, contacted in Amsterdam, confirmed having investigated Anna Stam’s witness statement and having ruled out any possibility that the child seen was Madeleine McCann. In perfect English, the police officer stated that he did not understand the persistence of the media as, according to him, “the Portuguese authorities requested and obtained the collaboration of the Dutch police via Interpol and the conclusions of the investigation carried out in The Netherlands were sent to both Portugal and the United Kingdom.

Referring to the McCanns’ spokesperson, Clarence Mitchell, The Telegraph states that the “revelation” added weight to Kate and Gerry McCann’s theory that their daughter may have been abducted by a child smuggling ring.

Anna Stam, a shopkeeper in Amsterdam, the same city in which Kate and Gerry McCann lived before the twins were born, is one of more than a dozen Dutch people who contacted the police claiming that they had seen Madeleine, but each time the lead turned out to be false.

The PJ had notably requested support from Interpol concerning all these witness statements, not only those emanating from The Netherlands, but also those from the rest of the world. According to a fax (which is amongst the documents that all the journalists, including the British, have received) sent from Lyons, Interpol’s European headquarters, the organisation placed all its resources at the disposal of the Portuguese authorities.

Given that the Dutch witness statement is not a unique case, one can expect other “revelations” as Madeleine remains the only missing child who has succeeded in being seen on every continent, sometimes on the same day.

Duarte Levy & Paulo Reis

Version Française


(*) The Belgians know “the Dutroux effect” better than anyone: following that case, the image of the country and of the Belgian people became commonly associated with paedophilia. However, despite political or language issues (the Achilles’ heel of Belgian society), the whole country took to the streets to demand reforms in the judicial system and particularly in the police. If there is a single country in Europe which has made an effort to prevent another case like the Dutroux one, it is indeed Belgium; and it has now become common practice for the country’s authorities to offer support and collaboration to its European partners, as was the case with the trial of Michel Fourniret and his wife Monique Olivier.

A few links, from 2007, about Mr. Toscano:

Why Mr. António Toscano is a hoaxer…

One question to my colleagues David Pilditch and Nick Parker

Spanish CID Press Office (“Policia Judicial”): “WE DON'T KNOW MR. ANTONIO TOSCANO”

Antonio Toscano “talked” again with Portuguese CID (in the police headquarters bathroom…)