A retired teacher has told Portuguese police she believes she saw missing Madeleine McCann in a supermarket on the Algarve coast.
The woman claimed the teenager was speaking in German to another girl in the store near Albufeira, 60km (37 miles) from the resort where Madeleine vanished in 2007.
She said she believed it was Madeleine, who would be 17 now, because of the distinctive blemish in her right eye. It’s a rare condition known as a coloboma that affects one in 10,000 children.
Image: Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007
The woman said she saw her three years ago, but did not report the alleged sighting at the time.
She has only recently told police and she also contacted the McCanns’ Lisbon lawyer Rogerio Alves.
The woman tells her story, anonymously, in an interview on Portuguese television tonight. She said she regularly spent her holidays in that part of the Algarve coast and can speak German.
Since Madeleine vanished, there have been nearly 9,000 reported “sightings” in 101 countries across the world, from Canada to New Zealand.
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The latest claim contradicts the view of the German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters who says he has “concrete evidence” Madeleine is dead and is trying to build a murder case against suspect Christian B.
The witness believes she saw Madeleine in the Apolonia supermarket at the resort of Gale, she tells presenter Sandra Felgueiras on Sexta at 9, an investigative news programme on the Portuguese state-funded channel RTP.
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She says she spotted her and realised it could be Madeleine, then waited for her at the check-out but didn’t see her again.
She said: “I saw the spot on her right eye and after some time I associated the face with Madeleine, but unfortunately it was too late, they had already left the supermarket.”
She went home and told her family what she had seen, but came forward recently only after seeing Christian B, a 43-year-old German drifter, in recent TV reports.
She tells RTP that after reporting the alleged sighting she heard nothing from the police. She said: “Until today I didn’t hear from anyone.”
It’s understood Portuguese police are now expected to interview the woman, but believe the girl she saw was not Madeleine.
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A child psychiatrist tells the programme it’s possible an abducted child could learn to live happily with a new family, but would still remember her parents.
Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from the family’s holiday apartment in May, 2007 after being left sleeping with her younger twin siblings while her parents Kate and Gerry McCann dined nearby with friends.
There have been many alleged sightings of her in Portugal, including one three weeks later of a girl with her distinctive eye blemish in the Algarve resort of Vilamoura near Faro.
Another caller to police around the same time reported seeing a girl being pushed by a man in the northern city of Porto.
Seven months after Madeleine vanished, a lorry driver told the McCanns’ private investigators he had seen a woman handing a bundle to a man across a metal fence elsewhere in the Algarve the day after her disappearance.
Madeleine has also been “seen” at a book fair in Rio de Janeiro, on a train between Brussels and Antwerp, on a boat in Egypt, at an airport in China and at a religious shrine in Bosnia.
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Madeleine’s parents are aware of the alleged sighting and their former spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Anyone who has any credible information regarding Madeleine must give it to the police, whether they are in Portugal, the UK or Germany.
“In this case, the information has been given to the Policia Judiciaria and it’s now down to the authorities to establish if there’s any truth in it.
“In the absence of incontrovertible evidence that the worst may have happened to Madeleine, Kate and Gerry will never give up hoping that their daughter may still be alive. They continue to have every faith in the British police and the work of Operation Grange.”
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The suspect Christian B, as he is known under German judicial privacy laws, is a convicted paedophile and is currently serving drugs and rape sentences in Kiel prison near Hamburg.
He lived on and off in the Algarve region from 1995 until 2007, but still travelled between Portugal and Germany until 2017, when he was deported to Germany for a second time to face child sex allegations.
The German prosecutor says there is a strong circumstantial case against Christian B, but he needs to find crucial forensic evidence to bring a charge. The suspect has yet to be interviewed about Madeleine’s disappearance by German police.
Sky News has reached out the lawyer representing the McCanns for comment.
Source : Sky News