Madeleine McCann inquiry: Two suspects questioned

Scotland Yard detectives arriving at Faro police station Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Scotland Yard detectives arrived to witness the questioning

Two suspects have been questioned in Portugal in the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

The BBC understands one of them is Sergey Malinka, who was questioned as a witness in 2007 after the three-year-old went missing.

A total of four "persons of interest" - or arguidos - will be quizzed in the latest development in the case.

Interviews are being carried out by Portuguese officers with Scotland Yard detectives present.

Mr Malinka and the other suspect left the central police station in Faro after they were interviewed.

The Russian-born computer expert, who has Portuguese nationality, is likely to face more questioning on Wednesday.

Portuguese citizens

A third person, who is said to be suffering from severe schizophrenia, remained in the police headquarters after the other two had left. It is not clear when the fourth individual will be interviewed.

All of those being questioned are Portuguese citizens. They have all been summoned to be interviewed; there have been no arrests.

Image copyright AP
Image caption British police carried out searches in Portugal last month in the Madeleine McCann inquiry
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption No evidence relating to the case was found but there will be further investigations
Image copyright PA
Image caption The searches were the most intensive since Madeleine went missing seven years ago

The status of arguidos in the Portuguese judicial system refers to individuals whom police may reasonably suspect are linked to a crime.

Local Briton Robert Murat - who was himself named as an arguido in the case before being cleared of any involvement - said it was "ridiculous" that Mr Malinka had been questioned as a suspect.

Mr Murat had worked with Mr Malinka in 2006 and 2007 setting up a property website.

He told the BBC: "It's absolutely ridiculous. It makes no sense.

"They've talked to him before, in 2007, so why are they talking to him again? He's a good professional and a hard worker. I don't know Sergey that well, but he is a nice lad."

Renewed activity

In June, Portuguese and British police searched three sites in Praia da Luz but found no evidence relating to the case.

Scotland Yard said at the time that "more activity" had been agreed with Portuguese police and the searches were the "first phase" of a major investigation.

At the scene

Jeremy Cooke, BBC News at Faro Police Station

Outside the Policia Judiciaria headquarters in Faro a small group of reporters and TV crews is gathered on the pavement.

There is little sign of activity inside the unassuming white-rendered building, which is set in a quiet cobbled street.

But it is believed that, just before 09:00 local time, the first of several suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann arrived to be questioned.

Several suspects or "arguidos" have been identified following the latest investigations by Scotland Yard detectives.

Each is expected to appear voluntarily before police in the coming days. The interviews are being conducted by Portuguese police officers with British detectives observing proceedings.

The searches were the most significant in the local area since Madeleine went missing seven years ago.

The McCann family were staying in an apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal when the three-year-old was last seen.

Her parents had been at a restaurant near their apartment when she went missing.

The developments come a year after the Met launched a fresh investigation into Madeleine's disappearance codenamed Operation Grange.

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