TROIS-RIVIERES, Que. - Lawyer Guy Bertrand insists his attempts to find a Quebec girl missing since July 2007 have been fruitful - even though Cedrika Provencher still hasn't been found.
"It was a success because we have information that was never given before," he said Wednesday.
Acting independently of the police, Bertrand spent the past six months gathering information about the girl's disappearance.
Provencher was just nine years old when she vanished from her neighbourhood in Trois-Rivieres, midway between Montreal and Quebec City.
Bertrand says he received 342 detailed pieces of information but that only 21 of the tips were "highly credible."
"In these cases, where I had the consent of informants, I referred the dossiers to the provincial police," he told a news conference in Trois-Rivieres.
Bertrand says the tips included information from an inmate in a Quebec prison "in which he says he is the abductor of Cedrika and recounts details of how it took place."
There was also "information which led us to dig up the ground in certain places where it was stated that Cedrika was buried."
A provincial police spokesman confirmed Bertrand passed the leads along to authorities.
"We got the information, I can't say when, but we received all the information," Sgt. Claude Denis told The Canadian Press.
Bertrand indicated he had been working with investigators all along.
It was also not known whether police have been in contact with the inmate mentioned by Bertrand.
The Quebec city lawyer says a tip was also received which identified "a potential abductor who was involved in the search to find Cedrika and was the owner of a red vehicle."
In September 2007, provincial police released a description of a French-speaking man and a four-door red Acura car believed to be involved in the girl's disappearance.
The man in his 30s had approached several girls about needing help to look for a lost dog in the two days before Cedrika vanished on July 31, 2007.
Bertrand says he verified the credibility of all informants and also checked with their families to see if they were people who had a tendency to exaggerate.
He received all the tips by phone, in writing or through personal visits to his law office.
"We have eight lines in the office and often the eight lines were busy," he said.
Bertrand wants Quebec to recognize the role that an independent counsel can play in the disappearance of missing children.
"His role should be well defined, he should have a budget to accomplish his task and his liberty should be protected," Bertrand added.
He also recommends that the Quebec Education Department and educators provide children in elementary schools with adequate information on how to protect themselves against all forms of abduction.
The lawyer says he hates being asked by reporters if he failed in his attempts to find the girl.
"The success is not if we found Cedrika or not," Bertrand said.
"A doctor doesn't fail when he tries all possibilities to save his patient."