Portuguese police are now working on the assumption that Madeleine McCann was abducted "to order" by an international pedophile network, after narrowing the focus of their six-day investigation.
Detectives have now discarded a range of other possibilities, including the theory that the British toddler could have walked out of her Algarve hotel room by herself or was kidnapped for adoption, Portuguese newspapers have reported.
“Everything points to a kidnapping,” a person close to the investigation told Correio da Manhã, adding that police were now exclusively investigating the possibility that she had been captured by a child abuse network. Police sources quoted anonymously by several other local newspapers said the same thing.
Citing local laws, Portuguese police have refused to speak publicly about the state of their investigation. But recent moves have pointed to a renewed focus on international pedophile networks.
British officers specializing in child abduction cases have flown out to the Algarve. One of them, Detective Superintendent Graham Hill, is a veteran of missing child investigations and was one of the senior detectives in the hunt for 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who vanished in March 2002. Her body was found in September that year, left in countryside in Hampshire. No one has ever been charged with the murder.
Hill, who has been working for the Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, was also a senior investigator in the hunt for Antoni Imiela, the serial rapist jailed in 2004 for attacks including five in Surrey. British detectives have also handed their Portuguese counterparts a list of people on the UK’s sex offenders register who have travelled recently to the country.