Four Britons were arrested in Portugal after a man was apparently kidnapped and tortured in the Algarve, it emerged today.
James Ross, from Wick in Caithness, disappeared after travelling to Portugal on October 5.
According to reports the 26-year-old had an ear, two fingers and three toes chopped off and was kept in a cage in a row over an unpaid debt.
Local 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.
He was found bleeding in the street in the nearby village of Alfontes by a local man, Carlos Pereira.
He told the newspaper that Mr Ross had "no left ear and was missing two fingers on his left hand, one (toe) from one foot and two from the other".
Mr Pereira said Mr Ross told him he had been involved in a car accident, and asked him to call the police.
Northern Constabulary launched a joint operation with the Portuguese Policia Judicaria and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). They described Mr Ross as a "high risk" missing person.
Their investigation is continuing and four men are expected to appear in court in Portugal at a later date.
A force spokesman said: "Following a report of a high-risk missing person made to police at Wick over the disappearance of a 26-year-old local man who had travelled to Portugal, Northern Constabulary instigated a joint operation with the Policia Judicaria and the assistance of the UK Soca.
"This operation culminated in the arrest of four UK nationals on serious criminal charges in Portugal where court appearances are expected.
"Investigations are continuing in tandem with the Portuguese authorities. The man has been recovered safely by officers in Portugal."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the hospitalisation of a British national on 18 October in Faro, Portugal. We stand ready to provide consular assistance."