The sister of a child who went missing in Greece more than 20 years ago says she wants her own DNA to be tested against that of a little girl found in a gypsy camp in the country in the off chance the girl is related to her missing brother.
A four-year-old blonde girl with blue eyes, known only as Maria, was thought to have been abducted after she was found in squalid conditions with a couple and 13 other children at a camp near Farsala in central Greece.
Sheffield boy Ben Needham was just 21 months old when he went missing on Greek holiday island Kos in 1991.
His sister Leighanna Needham, 20, never met Ben but said the discovery of Maria in the gypsy camp was welcome news for her family’s fight for answers.
“It’s given us great hope,” she told Sky News.
“Obviously, it’s been a strong belief of myself and all my family that Ben was taken by gypsies for child trafficking or illegal adoptions and this case just shows that they can be found.”
Maria was found after a police officer attending the camp noticed she bore no likeness to her supposed family and investigated further.
DNA tests confirmed his suspicions.
Ms Needham said the same technology could help find her long-lost brother.
“I think that would be a brilliant thing to get our DNA out there, even if it’s not actually Ben but any siblings or any children maybe of Ben (that are found) then that could hopefully lead us to him,” she said.
A couple Maria was living with at the camp, a 39-year-old man and 40-year-old woman, have been taken into custody and charged with child abduction.
A worldwide search is now underway for her real parents.
The discovery has also buoyed the hopes of Madeleine McCann’s parents.
The Leicestershire girl, then aged three, vanished from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007, as her parents dined with friends in a nearby tapas restaurant.
Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for her parents Kate and Gerry McCann, said Maria had renewed their hope that Madeleine would also be found.
“They have always maintained that until there is evidence to prove otherwise missing children can still be out there waiting to be found,” he told the Daily Mirror.
Maria’s discovery comes days after renewed interest in Madeleine’s case across the UK and Europe following a BBC Crimewatch episode that aired on Monday night showing two new e-fits of a suspect.
Detectives investigating the case have since received more than 2,400 calls and emails since the programme aired.