Madeleine McCann 'suspects' to be interviewed as British police arrive in Portugal

It is understood officers from the Met will sit in on interviews with up to eight people led by Portuguese detectives

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The Independent Online

Police in Portugal are today expected to begin questioning a number of suspects as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

They will be joined during the interviews by officers from the Metropolitan Police, who will be able to offer advice and questions but not address the suspects directly.

As many as eight people are thought to have been identified as  “arguidos”, or people of interest in the case, though all will reportedly attend a police station in the Algarve on a voluntary basis.

The suspects are all Portuguese nationals, the BBC reported, although a number are Russian-born. It is thought that they include three workers from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz who have been linked to a string of burglaries in the area before Madeleine's disappearance in 2007.

The first interviews will take place on Tuesday at a station in either Portimao or Faro, and continue over the course of the week. Sources were quoted by The Guardian as saying this questioning phase would take “days” rather than “weeks”.

Madeleine had been in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz at the time she went missing, while her parents Gerry and Kate McCann ate dinner with friends nearby.

Last month British officers, accompanied by their Portuguese counterparts, carried out searches of three areas of land near the resort, but found no evidence relating to the case.

On finishing the last search police said it had been the “first phase of this major investigation which has been agreed with the Portuguese”.

Video: Former suspect in case talks

While neither the Metropolitan Police nor officers in Portugal would make any official comment on the reports of questioning beginning today, a Scotland Yard statement during the searches said there was “still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months”.

“This recent work is part of ensuring that all lines of inquiry are progressed in a systematic manner and covers just the one hypothesis that she was killed and buried locally,” the statement said.

“This is the same as would be done in the UK for a murder or high-risk missing person inquiry.”