HUNT FOR MADELEINE
McCann family (DM)
hunting missing Madeleine McCann are probing claims that suspect
Robert Murat hurriedly hired a car two days before he was
arrested - despite already having two vehicles.
worker Maria Rocio says Murat rang her on Saturday and asked to
rent a Hyundai Getz for three days, insisting he needed it
immediately and could not wait.
added: "Robert said to me, 'I need to rent a car for myself
because the English people who are looking for the little girl
need to borrow my car. They need to put information posters on
Maria said she told him she was about to shut for lunch - and he
threatened to take his business elsewhere unless she let him
pick up the car before she went. She said: "There was something
about his voice, he was saying, 'I need to have it quickly.' His
voice was impatient, I could tell from his voice that he needed
it in a hurry."
Portuguese police are reported to have had Murat under
surveillance at the time - and were tailing both his gold Kia
and a green van owned by his mum Jenny. Maria, who works for the
Auto Rent III in Praia da Luz, was so confused over why Murat
needed a third vehicle she contacted police.
The blue Hyundai was returned to the firm on Tuesday evening.
It was still in his drive along with the van when the villa he
shares with Jenny was raided on Monday.
Police searched both vehicles and have examined Auto Rent's
records. Little Madeleine's family yesterday admitted for the
first time they fear she has been smuggled out of Portugal. Aunt
Philomena told of their anguish as she threw her weight behind a
campaign to publicise the four-year-old's plight across
in an email to well-wishers: "We don't believe that she is in Portugal any more and need to get her picture and
the story across Europe as
quickly as possible."
also urged people to pass on photographs and details of
Madeleine to "everyone you know."
campaign to publicise Madeleine's abduction, which is being
spearheaded by her parents Kate and Gerry McCann, has achieved
family's website www.findmadeleine.com received an astonishing
25million hits in its first day.
And Madeleine's story even made front page news in
magazine People. Police have also not ruled out the possibility
that Madeleine could have been smuggled into
after she was abducted from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz
two weeks ago. Posters have been printed in Arabic for use
Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
Malinka, the Russian computer expert arrested on Wednesday,
yesterday refused to comment on claims that there were several
phone calls between him and Murat shortly after Madeleine went
"I'm afraid I can't tell you. That's privileged information. I
can't share it with anybody."
22, who helped 33-year-old Murat set up a website, said their
relationship was confined to business.
Moscow-born Malinka was released at 3am yesterday after five
hours of questioning by police. His laptop and two computer hard
drives have been seized. He claimed police had interviewed him
after finding his number in Murat's phone.
said he was stunned by the investigation - and added: "My life
has fallen apart. I have been building my life here for seven
years. In one hour suddenly I'm a paedophile."
police had questioned him about Madeleine, adding: "They were
asking if I had any connection with Robert Murat. They asked if
I had anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance. I
volunteered to help."
whose mum and dad followed him to
after he emigrated from
Russia, worked for a number of
internet cafes in Praia da Luz before setting himself up as a
also linked to a business in Lagos
offering boat trips in the Mediterranean and to
night, police chief Olegario Sousa confirmed that Malinka is
being treated as a witness rather than a suspect. But he added:
"It might be that during the course of the investigation it
reports in the Portuguese press yesterday that police
photographed Murat and Malinka together in the days after
Madeleine vanished. Tuck Price, a Murat family friend, said this
was "absolutely not" sinister. He added: "It's possible, of
course. They would probably have a coffee and talk about the
also revealed that 71-year-old Jenny has been questioned about
her son's alibi. He claims he was having dinner with her on the
night that Madeleine vanished.
friends say he is staying out of sight in Jenny's villa, 150
yards from where Madeleine was snatched.
proclaiming Murat's innocence were yesterday put up around the Norfolk village where he used to live with
estranged wife Dawn and their daughter Sofia, four.
A4-sized posters were placed by Murat's Portuguese friend Carla
Cunha on front doors, fences, a bus shelter, and the village
hall in Hockering, Norfolk. The posters show his face and say:
"Rob is innocent. Please Rob be strong for Sofia. She love you very much."