Maddie case: ‘police to make first arrests’

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iol news pic Madeleine McCann Maddy Associated Press This 2007 file photograph released by the McCann family shows three-year-old Madeleine before her disappearance.

London - British police investigating the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal want to speak to three men they believe were carrying out burglaries at the time of the girl's disappearance, the Daily Mirror reported on Monday.

According to the tabloid, police were preparing to travel to Portugal to make the first arrests since British officers started to review the case in 2011.

Madeleine went missing aged three from her room at the Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve in May 2007 while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant, leading to a global search that gripped the world's media.

The police have since found cellphone records which showed the three men in question made numerous calls to each other in the hours after the three-year-old disappeared, the mass-selling newspaper said.

Britain's prosecution service has sent an International Letter of Request to Portuguese police seeking permission to arrest the trio, the paper added.

A spokesman for the police confirmed that a letter had been sent to the Portuguese authorities, but declined to comment on the contents of the letter.

“We can confirm a second International Letter of Request has been sent to the Portuguese authorities,” the spokesman said.

Despite huge international interest and numerous reported sightings from Belgium and Spain to Morocco, France and Malta, and investigations stretching as far away as Australia, the girl's fate remains a mystery.

Her parents were named as official suspects by Portuguese police four months after Madeleine's disappearance, but in 2008 they were cleared and Portugal's public prosecutor later dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence.

London police launched a review of the case in 2011 and began their own investigation in July last year. - Reuters

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