Is Ben Needham alive and in Germany?

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The Independent Online
It is six years since 21-month-old Ben Needham vanished on the Greek island of Kos, but his family have never given up hope of finding him and pursue each new lead with undiminished energy.

The latest suggestion is that Ben is in Germany. The Foreign Office said it had passed "certain information" to the German authorities and was keeping in close touch with them.

The source of the fresh information is a Greek citizen serving a prison sentence for armed robbery. He contacted Ben's grandparents, Eddie and Christine Needham, after seeing an appeal by them on Greek television. The man told the Needhams that the boy had been abducted by a gypsy gang, taken to northern Greece and then on to Germany.

Ben's relatives said yesterday that they were trying not to be too optimistic. "We have had information which has been passed on to the German police about a Greek couple living in Germany who know where Ben is," Mrs Needham said at her home in Sheffield.

"We are now waiting for the German authorities to interview that couple. According to our informant, the couple know where Ben is and who he is with." The prisoner claims to be related to the couple, one of whom is said to be a waiter in a Greek restaurant. The names and locations have not been disclosed, but according to somereports, German police have mounted a surveillance operation on the restaurant and are preparing to move in.

The British authorities are taking the latest information seriously but are anxious not to overplay it. There have been more than 200 reported sightings of Ben since he disappeared in July 1991 - all false.

Mrs Needham said yesterday: "We don't want to raise our hopes too high. There is always the possibility our informant was lying, for whatever reason."

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