Murat friend quizzed over Madeleine finds car torched - and the word 'speak' scrawled beside it


Last updated at 08:40 21 March 2008

Sergey Malinka

Sergey Malinka: He was questioned about last year's disappearance of Madeleine McCann

A man who was questioned by police investigating Madeleine McCann's disappearance had his car set on fire yesterday and the word "speak" scrawled beside it.

Computer expert Sergey Malinka, 22, an associate of official suspect Robert Murat, woke up to discover the smouldering Audi A4 close to his flat in Praia da Luz, the Algarve resort where Madeleine went missing last May.

Sprayed in red paint on the pavement next to it was "fala" – Portuguese for "speak".

The Russian expat said yesterday: "Who the hell has written that? What exactly do they want me to say?

"They must be talking about Robert. There's nothing to say. I'm angry that someone would do this and I want to find out who it was."

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Enlarge   Torched car Sergey Malinka

Charred wreck: Malinka's torched Audi A4 with the word fala (meaning speak) written beside it

Neighbours described hearing a bang like a "gunshot" at around 5am, apparently as the arsonist struck, although Mr Malinka slept through the commotion.

He was a business associate of Murat and was designing his website when Madeleine vanished shortly before her fourth birthday.

Kate Gerry McCann

The former police chief has already claimed that Kate and Gerry McCann are probably responsible for their daughter's disappearance. The couple deny any involvement

He was questioned as a witness after phone records showed that Murat phoned him at 11.40pm on the night she disappeared.

Police also seized computers from his apartment and discovered that he had wiped their hard disks.

He strenuously denies having anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance, and has claimed that he was beaten up by police during the interrogation to try to get him to admit involvement.

On Wednesday evening he parked his car about 40ft from his apartment. He said: "I went to bed and I switched my phone to silent. When I woke up I had 32 missed calls."

He added: "I'm not scared. It's just a car. It was a nice car, but at least I wasn't inside it.

"But I have no feelings about this. They ripped my heart out last summer when they involved me with all


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Portuguese detectives and forensics experts spent the morning searching the remains of the car. Mr Malinka later met police to talk about the arson attack.

It is believed to be the third time a vehicle has mysteriously been set alight close to his house in the middle of the night, one of which was a van belonging to Mr Malinka.

Both the previous apparent arson attacks were before Madeleine's disappearance.