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IN THIS ISSUE: New Hope for Madeleine McCann?

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Mar. 12 2011, Published 5:50 a.m. ET

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Madeleine McCann, just 3 years old when she vanished from her room in a posh Portuguese resort as her parents dined in a nearby restaurant, may have been kidnapped and smuggled into the United States by an organized pedophile ring, according to a private detective’s explosive new claim. OK! takes a look at the new reports in this week's issue.

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Marcelino Italiano, a 36-year-old investigator and former nightclub bouncer, told police he believes Maddy is alive. He asserts that two prominent Portuguese businessmen with links to the country’s judiciary were involved in her disappearance on May 3, 2007.

“It’s up to the police to determine the validity of his private investigation,” child protection expert Mark  Williams- Thomas tells OK!. “Then they will pursue those people he named to be involved in the pedophiliac activity.” Italiano believes the pedophile ring has been responsible for the kidnapping of more than a dozen children. “They need to be exposed,” he has said. Portuguese officials have been pursuing Maddy’s captors since her abduction from her family’s vacation apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal.

Maddy’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and the Find Madeleine Fund’s own private investigators have interviewed hundreds of witnesses and pored over evidence that includes more than 1,000 phone calls and 15,000 e-mails in the years since Maddy went missing. They are now exploring these new claims. “We are grateful for the information,” Maddy’s parents said in a statement. “As with any information of this nature, the man  concerned has done the right thing by informing the authorities. Clearly it will be a matter for them and the private investigators currently searching for Madeleine to investigate further.”

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