Secrecy order placed on investigations over 2 arrested in McCann case

Continued detention of an Italian man and a Portuguese woman who tried to extort money from Madeleine McCann’s parents will be classified as secret, a police official said Friday.

Police arrested the two in the exclusive Sotogrande district of San Roque town in southern Spain Thursday. The order from a judge in the nearby town of Torremolinos means police will not be able to comment on developments although the two remain in custody, a police spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with police rules.

The detainees were only identified by their initials; D.C. for the Italian and A.D. for the Portuguese woman.

In a statement Thursday, police said the two were suspected of trying to extract money from the McCanns by supposedly offering information concerning their daughter.

But the Italian Foreign Ministry said Spanish authorities had told them the man had no connection with the girl's disappearance.

Two Portuguese detectives took part in the arrests and a Portuguese police inspector said it was thought that the two might be involved in the Madeleine case, but there was no concrete evidence yet.

The McCann family have launched a Europe-wide search for their daughter after she disappeared two months ago during a family vacation in Portugal.

The Italian was arrested on an international warrant - issued from France, where he was wanted for alleged association with a criminal group - the Spanish police statement said. He had served an 18-month sentence in France for child mistreatment, specifically his daughter, it said. A spokeswoman said his arrest warrant had nothing to do with the McCann case.

The Portuguese woman was detained because of her association with the Italian man.

Madeleine disappeared May 3 after her parents left her and her brother and sister, 2-year-old twins, alone in their room while they went to a restaurant inside their hotel complex in Praia da Luz, a tiny resort town in Portugal's Algarve region.

Police have identified just one suspect in the case, but made no arrests before Thursday.

A month ago, Portuguese police said they were searching for a suspect - a white man between 35 and 40 - in connection with the girl's disappearance. They said the suspect had been wearing a dark jacket and beige trousers on the day the girl disappeared, and was spotted possibly carrying the girl near where she had vanished.