British police plan to arrest three burglars who made "many phone calls" after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007, a British newspaper has reported.
The Mirror says the Crown Prosecution Service last week sent an official request to Portuguese police asking permission to arrest the trio, who reportedly raided other holiday flats at the Praia da Luz resort where the three-year old was on holiday with her parents.
It is the second ‘International Letter of Request’ from Scotland Yard, after an earlier letter requesting mobile phone data.
No formal arrests have ever been made in the hunt for Madeleine, though local police named several formal suspects who were later cleared.
The Met set up Operation Grange in 2011 to review the case, after pleas from Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry who believed Portuguese police had not fully investigated the case.
The review was upgraded to a formal investigation last July, in light of new evidence and witnesses, when police said they had 38 "persons of interest".
In October a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction and appeal received 5000 calls.
According to the Mirror, Met officers were preparing to fly to the Algarve to make the arrests. They want to speak to the thieves because mobile phone records showed the men made numerous calls to each other in the hours after Madeleine disappeared.
The gang were believed to have raided another holiday flat at Praia da Luz in May 2007, days before Madeleine’s disappearance.
During that raid they disturbed a child, then fled when they were interrupted by the youngster’s parents.
A letter of request is usually sent when asking for evidence that requires judicial oversight, or involves coercion or invasion of privacy.
The request does not necessarily mean police believe the thieves were guilty of the crime, but indicates they want to get more information to rule them in or out of the investigation.
However a spokesperson for the McCanns told the Mirror that the request could be a “sensitive issue” with the Portuguese police.
- Sydney Morning Herald