The hitman behind an acid attack that nearly killed a British holiday rep has been tracked down to Uganda, police believe.
Ellie Chessell, 29, suffered serious injuries to her face and body in the horror attack in May.
Her ex-boyfriend Claudio Gouveia is languishing in jail in his native Madeira and facing trial for attempted murder.
Portuguese police believe he paid a local drifter to carry out the attack after Ellie was lured to a quiet road in the resort of Alvor near Portimao.
But despite knowing the man’s identity, they have not been able to track him down until now.
Last night, it emerged the mystery attacker had been found in Uganda where he is being held over a heroin seizure – thanks to an eagle-eyed British Interpol agent working in the east African country.
Portuguese authorities say they will now seek to have him extradited after fingerprint confirmation of his identify so they can put him in the dock alongside jobless Gouveia.
The alleged acid attacker has been named as Edmundo Helder Rodrigues Fonseca, 44, who is also from the Madeiran capital Funchal.
He was arrested in Uganda in June – around a month after Ellie was targeted near the four-star hotel she was working at in the Algarve holiday resort of Alvor near Portimao in what police have described as a “revenge attack” following her break-up from an ex.
Portuguese police are understood be preparing an extradition request after being informed of Rodrigues Fonseca’s arrest by Interpol.
A source close to the investigation said: “The suspected acid attacker had already been identified by police but his whereabouts remained a mystery until relatively recently.
“A man with his name and date of birth was arrested in Uganda in June with six kilos of heroin.
“A UK Interpol liaison officer there checked European databases and discovered a European Arrest Warrant was out for him.
“Portuguese authorities have already sent photos of him along with fingerprints to confirm it is the same person and rule out the remote possibility another person is using his identity.
“They will request his extradition once his identify is confirmed, either with the help of the police in Uganda or Interpol or both.
“We believe this man is a drifter who has been paid to carry out this sickening attack on Ellie.”
The circumstances of his arrest in Uganda, which is increasingly serving as a staging post for Afghan heroin heading to Europe, have not been made clear.
Rodrigues Fonseca’s exact whereabouts are not known, although he is believed to be in a prison in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
Gouveia is expected to be tried over the acid attack on Ellie, who worked in Madeira being being transferred to the Algarve, as well as a crime of domestic violence relating to a complaint she lodged with police around two months before she was attacked.
The unemployed 34-year-old was remanded in custody on May 30 over the May 6 attack on his ex-girlfriend.
Gouveia spoke of his shock after learning Ellie had been attacked in the days leading up to his arrest.
Police linked the incident early on to a revenge attack by an ex-boyfriend.
He branded the attacker an animal and urged police to put him behind bars.
He also described the pretty blonde as “someone special” in his life and said she had suffered a “disgusting” act of evil.
Pointing the finger at someone she might have met since they last spoke, Claudio insisted in broken English after being informed of the attack: “I had no information about it and I’m surprised about the accusations of an ex-boyfriend.
“I’m surprised not to be contacted by the police but I’m definitely going to the station to clear up this misunderstanding and find out why and how I’m being involved if they mean me as the ex-boyfriend.
“I haven’t been with Ellie for about three months so I guess they could mean another boyfriend. I’m not sure she had anyone since me.
“I have no idea about her life since she left Madeira. We have never talked since. I couldn’t tell if she had anyone else but it is likely.”
Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria confirmed in a statement released after his arrest: “The PJ, through the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimao, has identified and arrested a 34-year-old unemployed man on suspicion of attempted homicide on the island of Madeira.
“The arrested man had a relationship with his victim and after they broke-up, tried to seek revenge.
“Executing a previously prepared plan, he obtained the help of a third person, who on the night of May 6 in the area of Alvor near Portimao, attacked the woman with acid, causing her burns and serious injuries on several parts of the body.”
They also said the suspect had an existing criminal record.
Ellie, a Thomson and First Choice employee, suffered second and third degree burns to more than 50 per cent of her body after being doused with around two litres of acid.
She was attacked in the street close to the Alvor Baia Resort Hotel where she had worked for the previous two months.
Police sources said at the time they believed she had been lured to the spot where she was targeted after receiving a message or phone call.
She was taken to hospital locally before being transferred to a specialist burns unit at a Lisbon hospital.
She has yet to speak about her ordeal and recovery.
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