A British man questioned over the disappearance of Madeleine
McCann in Portugal
is being treated as a suspect.
He is believed to be Robert Murat, who shares a villa with his
mother Jenny in Praia da Luz,
The man, who has since been released by police, may have requested
suspect status for the legal rights it gives.
Officers searched the villa 150 yards from where four-year-old
Madeleine of Rothley, Leicestershire, was last seen, and questioned
Under the Portuguese legal system, arrests can only be made when
police designate someone as an "arguido" or suspect, although no-one
has been arrested yet in this case.
A person may also ask for the arguido process to be invoked as it
gives them specific protection such as access to a lawyer and the
right to remain silent.
BBC correspondent Richard Bilton said a British man in his 30s has
been given arguido status.
It is understood the other people questioned were a German woman and
a Portuguese man.
The search of the property known as Casa Liliana began at 0700 local
time on Monday after Sunday Mirror journalist Lori Campbell had
spoken to the British Embassy and the police about Mr Murat.
He had become well known to journalists during the search for
Mr Murat, formerly of Hockering,
Norfolk, describes himself as half-Portuguese
and told reporters he had been helping police with translation work
during the investigation.
Mr Murat's mother is a 71-year-old former nurse who has lived in Portugal for 40
years and brought her son and daughter up in the country.
Catherine Roberts, a friend of the family in Portugal, said: "Jenny is very well
known around here - she has lived here most of her life.
"And the family has a very good reputation and a very good name."
Mr Murat's uncle, Ralph Eveleigh, who runs a bed and breakfast in
the nearby village of Burgau, said his nephew had an alibi for
the night Madeleine went missing.
"His mother says that on the night the kid disappeared they were
both in the house together all night," he said.
"Robert is so sweet and good-natured. He was just trying to help."
Mr Murat's cousin, Sally Eveleigh, said there was "absolutely no
way" he could have had anything to do with Madeleine's
Officers in white suits with facemasks were seen at the Murat's
villa and in its grounds on Monday evening.
It is believed police have drained its swimming pool and taken away
computers, mobile phones and several video tapes.
Madeleine is believed to have been abducted while her parents were
eating at a tapas bar.
On Monday, her parents Kate and Gerry McCann said they would not
return to the UK until she was
found safe and well.
Mr McCann, who is originally from
Glasgow, said the couple would continue to
believe she was being cared for until they received "concrete
evidence to the contrary".
The international number for Crimestoppers is +44 1883 731 336.
People with information about Madeleine can call anonymously.