British police are reportedly planning to make the first arrests in the hunt for Madeleine Mc Cann, who has been missing since 2007.
They are thought to be looking for three burglars who were operating in the Praia da Luz area of the Algarve, when the three-year-old disappeared.
The men raided another flat in the same area days before Madeleine’s disappearance. They disturbed a child but the parents then came in from outside and the burglars fled.
Portuguese police have not made any connection between the two incidents but British police see it as a potentially important case development.
Operation Grange was set up in 2011 to review this case and these will be the first arrests made, it is said the officers are keen to speak to the men who made numerous calls to each other in the hours after Madeleine disappeared.
Kate and Gerry McCann see this latest development as significant progress
A spokesman for Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry said: “The letter is a significant development. It is necessary for British police to request the Portuguese authorities allow them to operate on their turf.
Scotland Yard confirmed this morning that a letter had been sent to the Portuguese police asking permission to arrest the men.
“It means they have the intention of arresting and interviewing X, Y or Z. We don’t know who they have their sights on but it’s likely it is the burglars.
“Whether the Portuguese will co-operate remains to be seen. It is a very sensitive issue with differences they have had.
“Police want to be given a chance to arrest key suspects. It doesn’t prove they have Madeleine but it will rule them in or out of the investigation and that is important.
“Kate and Gerry don’t want to build up their hopes too high but they realise it could be a significant new lead.”
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