A video with unpublished images of Maddie, at age six, tanned, with dark hair, as if the child had spent two years in North Africa or in the south of the Iberian peninsula, is the focal point of a new appeal for witnesses which the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) launched yesterday in England in connection with Kate and Gerry McCann's campaign.
This new instrument of the campaign presents a series of already known photos and video images of Madeleine, but also three images of what the child might look like now, if she were still alive.
(Video can be viewed here)
The video, translated into seven languages - English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish - and specially produced for the internet, claims to appeal to the conscience of a potential witness, "who knows what happened to Maddie".With the assistance of Jim Gamble, a CEOP's officer, the video was produced with the help of psychologists and aims to convince, "a friend or a relative of the person responsible for the little girl's disappearance," that they would be, "doing the right thing". "The person we are trying to reach out to is probably a partner, a family member, a friend or a work colleague of the person or persons who were involved in Madeleine's disappearance," the CEOP's officer said, stressing that it, "was more than likely that they, or someone close to them used the internet to find all news items that might suggest that the police were very close to discovering the truth."
This latest video includes new virtual images of Maddie which have just been added to the photo previously presented in the United States by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and which showed Maddie with a, "more American," appearance.
CEOP is banking on the internet to disseminate the new appeal - the first of its kind - and hopes the message will reach the whole world through blogs, but also via social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The Judiciary Police (PJ) is excluded from the campaign.
CEOP is not working with the Judiciary Police, although they are the authority responsible for the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance, but promises that all relevant information received will be handed over to the Leicestershire Police, "who will coordinate with the Portuguese detectives."
"I have no knowledge of this new campaign or of the appeal," a PJ source said, showing some hesitation about collaboration with CEOP: "that's the organisation that in 2007 asked tourists for photos taken in Praia da Luz and which subsequently we received none of," the same inspector said.
After Maddie's disappearance, that organisation asked tourists who visited Praia da Luz to send photos from their holidays so that they could be compared with a data bank of images of UK paedophiles and other criminals.
The new campaign, according to the CEOP officer, has the support of police around the world, in particular Interpol, Europol, Australian, North American, Canadian and United Arab Emirates police. The new appeal launched by CEOP, with Jim Gamble - known in England for his involvement in Operation ORE - claims to respond to Kate and Gerry's frustration with the lack of new evidence and leads.
"We are extremely grateful to CEOP for launching this new message world-wide in such an effective way. It's vital that it's seen as widely as possible," the couple said in a press release.
By Duarte Levy