A person has been declared an official suspect by Portuguese prosecutors investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
They did not name the person of interest but said they were acting on the request of German authorities.
In 2020 German police said they were investigating a man in connection with the case – but he has not been charged.
Three-year-old Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in Praia da Luz in 2007.
She has never been found and investigators believe she was abducted from the holiday apartment where the family were staying in the Algarve resort.
On Thursday, a statement was issued by prosecutors in Faro, Algarve’s main city, who said a person was made an “arguido” – which translates as “named suspect”, “formal suspect” or “person of interest” – a day earlier.
It is the first time Portuguese prosecutors have identified an official suspect in the case since Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were named suspects 15 years ago. They were later cleared.
On 3 May it will be 15 years since Madeleine was reported missing and under Portuguese law it would no longer be possible to declare someone a person of interest beyond this date. Declaring someone a person of interest is a necessary step to any criminal charges.
In its statement, though, Portugal’s office of public prosecutions said that the move was not driven by timing, but by “strong indications” of the practice of a crime.
In 2020, German prosecutors identified a suspect, a 45-year-old named by German media as Christian B, but he has not been charged. He denies any involvement.
He is currently serving a prison sentence for drug offences in Germany and was also given a seven-year term for raping a 72-year-old woman.
The Metropolitan Police continue to treat Madeleine’s disappearance as a missing persons inquiry.
Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, was on holiday with her family at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz when she disappeared on 3 May 2007.
Madeleine’s whereabouts remains unknown, despite her disappearance being the most heavily reported missing person case.