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Pedro Miguel dos Anjos Frias is a Juiz de Instrucao Criminal - criminal instructing judge - who has been appointed to oversee the case against the couple.
Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, the Portimao-based public prosecutor, has handed him all 10 volumes of evidence produced by the police.
It could take Judge Frias up to a week to sift through the documents, which include scientific evidence as well as details of the McCanns' interviews with police.
It is Judge Frias who gives approval for any further police activity in the case, such as searches, tighter bail conditions or agreeing phone taps.
Mr Meneses is responsible for deciding whether charges should be brought but he must seek final approval from Judge Frias.
The judge will look at the case put forward by Mr Meneses and then decide if there is a case to answer.
If he believes there is, it is up to him to make those charges public and summon the accused to court.
Judge Frias is based in Portimao, 30 miles from Praia da Luz, but moved to the town only eight days ago to fulfil his new role.
He had worked as a judge in nearby Lagos since 1993 and before then was based in Ourique, in central Portugal.
He is divorced, in his early 40s and is known for his straight-talking.
Tall, thin, with short black hair, he cuts an imposing figure dressed in his black judicial robes.