BRITISH police have asked their Portugese counterparts to arrest three suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
The three-year-old – whose father has strong Donegal connections – disappeared from a holiday apartment in Portugal in 2007.
The Metropolitan Police in London assigned to Operation Grange want to talk to three burglars who carried out raids in the Portuguese resort at the time of the abduction.
Mobile phone records showed the suspects made numerous calls to each other in the hours after she disappeared.
The Crown Prosecution Service has sent an International Letter of Request to Portuguese police seeking permission to arrest the trio.
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.
“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.”