Sunday, 20 May 2007

'What about our missing children?'

Daily Telegraph
Fiona Govan

The mothers of three Portuguese children who have disappeared in recent years claimed yesterday that police are putting more effort into finding Madeleine McCann than their own children.

Filomena Teixeira, whose 11-year-old son Rui Pedro disappeared in March 1998, told a newspaper: "It is clear they didn't do the same when Rui Pedro disappeared. The extent of the authorities' mobilisation was not as big."

Maria de Jesus Sousa, whose seven-year-old daughter, Claudia, went missing in May 1994, said police had not taken the disappearance of her daughter seriously." I feel treated unfairly," she said. "The authorities doubted me and did nothing."

A Portuguese tourism official yesterday admitted that Madeleine's disappearance had awakened tensions in a region that relies on tourists being drawn to its warm climate and sandy beaches.

"There is no doubt that this case has a much higher profile because Madeleine is British and was on holiday here and this is causing resentment amongst the Portuguese," said Jose Dias, the vice president of the Algarve tourist board.

"It certainly doesn't help to learn that we may have dozens of known British paedophiles visiting the Algarve," he said in a reference to reports that British police had handed over a list of sex offenders thought to have visited the region in recent weeks.