BBC News

Arrests over Caithness man's 'torture' in Portugal

image captionJames Ross was taken to a hospital in Faro, Portugal

Four British men have been arrested following the disappearance of a Scotsman in Portugal.

James Ross, 26, of Wick, was traced and taken to hospital after an operation involving Northern Constabulary and the Policia Judiciaria.

It has been claimed Mr Ross was held for 13 days and tortured.

The four men, whose names have not been released, have appeared in court in Portugal on serious criminal charges, according to Northern Constabulary.

According to reports Mr Ross had an ear, two fingers and three toes cut off and was kept in a cage in a row over an unpaid debt.

He was admitted to hospital in Faro, but has since been transferred to a hospital in Lisbon because he requires plastic surgery to his injuries.

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha claimed Mr Ross was tortured for 13 days before escaping from his captors in the village of Boliqueime, near the town of Loule, on Monday.

Police in Portugal and Scotland have not commented on the torture claims.

Northern Constabulary said it was alerted to Mr Ross's disappearance by a report to police in Wick of a "high risk" missing person.

Operation Aniseed was launched in conjunction with Portugal's judicial police with assistance from the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency.

A spokesman at Northern Constabulary said: "This operation culminated in the arrest of four UK nationals on serious criminal charges in Portugal and they have now appeared in court.

"The investigation continues in tandem with the Portuguese authorities. Mr Ross has been recovered safely by officers in Portugal."

Consular assistance

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said: 'We can confirm the hospitalisation of a British National on 18 October in Faro, Portugal.

"We stand ready to provide consular assistance."

A spokeswoman said consular assistance had been offered to the families of all the British Nationals the FCO was in contact with.

She added: "We stand ready to provide assistance to those we are yet to speak to."

The Policia Judiciaria told the BBC Scotland news website they were unable to comment at this stage, but believed the four men had appeared in court.

A unit of the Policia Judiciaria that tackles terrorism and some organised crime was involved in the joint operation.