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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ben Needham's family told Cypriot man not their son

Police say man who presented himself for DNA test is definitely not British toddler who went missing on Kos, in 1991

The family of Ben Needham, the toddler who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos 22 years ago, have learned that a man who presented himself for DNA testing to police is not their son.

On the day of Ben's 24th birthday, the family said they remained "strong and resolute" and would continue to search for Ben. They confirmed in a post on the official Help Find Ben Needham Facebook page that a man who was thought to look like reconstructions of their missing son, was unrelated to them.

The post said: "The Needham family have, in the last few minutes … had confirmation that the DNA results on the man in Cyprus have come back as negative. This, again, is more disappointment for Kerry and her family.

"However, they remain strong and resolute in their search for Ben, and there are other leads currently being looked into which keeps their hopes alive."

Authorities in Cyprus said it was beyond any doubt that the young man did not bear any relationship to Ben. "The DNA result was negative," police officer Yannos Petrides told the Guardian from Nicosia, the Cypriot capital. "Genetic profiling has proved beyond any doubt that he does not have relationship to Ben Needham. We want everyone to know this."

The investigation began when the district attorney on Kos, the island where Needham went missing 22 years ago, was presented with a video showing a young man, bearing a resemblance to the Briton, attending a wedding in a Roma camp outside Limassol, on Cyprus.

The video had been sent by an anonymous source to the head of the lawyers association on Kos. The sender was only prepared to say that he had been inspired to hand over the material when his "conscience was awakened" by the discovery of another little girl, known as Maria, in a Roma camp in central Greece.

The focus of a worldwide investigation, the blonde, blue-eyed child came to embody the plight of missing children internationally before DNA tests proved that a 38-year-old Roma woman in Bulgaria was her real mother. The woman subsequently told police she had been too poor to take care of the girl after she had given birth to her in a hospital in Greece and so had handed her over to another Roma couple when she was seven months old.

Police on Kos insisted on Tuesday that the search for Ben would continue. Last October, South Yorkshire police, in collaboration with the local force, aided by hi-tech sonar equipment and dogs trained in tracking human remains excavated the site on the Aegean island where the toddler went missing.

The investigation, the biggest ever conducted to crack the mystery of the missing Briton, was ultimately fruitless after police announced that no human remains were found in the area.

"But we have not given up hope. We are still working very closely with British police," said a police officer speaking on condition of anonymity. "The inquiry is ongoing."

The toddler, who was 21 months old, went missing on 24 July 1991, after travelling to Kos with his mother, Kerry, and grandparents, Eddie and Christine. Kerry was working behind the bar of a hotel and living on her own in a flat near her family. On the day Ben went missing, Kerry was at work, her son being looked after by her family at the farmhouse being renovated by her father in the village of Iraklis.

CyprusEuropeHelena SmithAlexandra © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds