By: CECÍLIA PIRES and NATASHA SMITH
A CAR belonging to Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, who has been questioned by police as part of the Madeleine McCann investigation, was destroyed in the early hours of Thursday (March 20) morning in Praia da Luz.
A spokesman for the national head office of the Polícia Judiciária told The Resident on Wednesday: “The Polícia Judiciária can confirm that, because of the nature of the incident, it has opened an inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the fire which destroyed the car of Sergey Malinka.”
The incident took place at around 5am only 30 metres away from Mr Malinka’s apartment, where he was said to be sleeping, and was reported exclusively on that day by The Resident online edition (www.the-resident.com).
The word fala (talk) had been written on the pavement next to the car.
Witnesses said that two cars were involved in the blast and The Resident has already confirmed with police sources that the numberplate of the silver Audi where the blast occurred is registered in the name of Sergey Malinka. The other car was an Opel Zafira belonging to another person living in the area. Police first interviewed Malinka on May 16 last year, around two weeks after Madeleine went missing. Police searched the home of the IT expert, who designed a website for Robert Murat and was seen talking to Murat several times in the days after Madeleine’s disappearance. He was adamant that he was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect.
A report on Friday (March 21) in the Portuguese daily newspaper Correio da Manhã (CM), quotes Mr Malinka as saying that he does not understand the message left on the pavement and that he is “tired” of the Madeleine case. “I don’t know what to do anymore”, he told CM, adding: “I go to church every week, I pay my taxes, I don’t deserve this. I want to be left alone.”
The same report quotes a PJ source who said “there was no change in the inquiry” into the Madeleine case because of this incident, and that Mr Malinka “was interviewed again” last Friday, but “only because he made a complaint about a completely different case”, that is the destruction of his car.
Sergey Malinka has lived in Praia da Luz for around seven years and has always maintained he had nothing to do with Madeleine’s disappearance.
He claims he only had a professional relationship with one of the official suspects, Robert Murat, and he has never been named as an arguido.
This was also confirmed by Francisco Pagarete, Robert Murat’s lawyer, who told The Resident on Wednesday that he ”could not imagine the motives behind” the blast and that he only knew Sergey Malinka because he worked for his client.
The Resident spoke to Robert Murat at the end of last week and he said he had not been told about the incident. “I am in England now but I am surprised that no one in Praia da Luz phoned me to tell me about it,” he said.
It is understood that Robert Murat has now returned to Portugal and that he was contacted by the Portimão Polícia Judiciária asking him to collect the computers and clothes that were seized following the searches made at his house in 2007 under the Madeleine investigation.
According to Francisco Pagarete, “this was a good sign that the investigation may be close to an end” although he added that it “is impossible to know yet when Robert will be released from the arguido status”.
Robert Murat was named as an arguido in the Madeleine case on May 15 after he was reported to the PJ by a British journalist covering the story at Praia da Luz. “He is very happy now because he believes he will be cleared soon”, Francisco Pagarete said.
The PJ have also contacted Michaela Walczuch, who was interviewed as a witness like Sergey Malinka, and returned several items of equipment that were seized at the time she was questioned by the PJ in the mid-May.
Madeleine McCann, went missing, aged three, in Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.
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