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Madeleine suspect 'phoned Russian'

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX BLOGS 4th BIRTHDAY PHOTOGRAPHS NEWS MAY 2007
Original Source: SCOTSMAN: 19 MAY 2007
ALISON HARDIE SENIOR NEWS WRITER
Sat 19 May 2007
 
THE Russian quizzed about his relationship with Robert Murat, the only suspect in the Madeleine McCann case, was called by him on the night the four-year-old was taken, it was claimed yesterday.

Computer expert Sergey Malinka, 22, had reportedly said it had been a year since he had any contact with Mr Murat. But last night it was alleged that mobile phone records showed Mr Malinka was called by Mr Murat at 11:40pm on the night Madeleine went missing.

The latest twists came as her parents stepped up the campaign to find her.

Together with friends and family, Gerry and Kate McCann have formed "Team McCann" in a holiday apartment given over to them in the resort of Praia da Luz, where they had been holidaying when Madeleine was snatched.

A fund to help find Madeleine stands at 73,505 and is expected to grow quickly after a huge public response.

The video appealing for Madeleine's return played during the UEFA Cup final at Hampden this week will be aired today at the FA Cup final at Wembley. Thousands have downloaded appeal posters and forwarded an e-mail chain letter started by Madeleine's family.

Mr Malinka, who moved to Portugal from Moscow seven years ago, said he could not comment on reports about the phone call in the London Evening Standard until the police investigation was over. Both he and Mr Murat, 33, have protested their innocence.

The Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported yesterday that police had so far found no traces of Madeleine anywhere in Mr Murat's villa.

Last night, Dawn Murat, the mother of his four-year-old daughter, said she did not believe her estranged husband had been involved in the child's abduction. She said: "There is no doubt in my mind he is innocent. He loves children and is the most helpful, kind and genuine person I have ever met."

Madeleine's parents have been joined in the Algarve by their family priest, Father Paul Seddon, 45, who married them eight years ago and baptised Madeleine.

Describing the family's initial reaction when they discovered Madeleine had been taken, he said: "Those first few hours were filled only with darkness and fear. None of us will ever forget how we felt at that moment."

More than 55 million people have visited a website dedicated to finding Madeleine and raising awareness, and 20,000 messages of support have been left for her parents and fa
mily on www.findmadeleine.com

Donations to the fund can be made in NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Postal donations, with cheques payable to "Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned", can be made to Madeleine's Fund, c/o The International Family Law Group, 26 Southampton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7RS. Internet donations can be made into "Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned", sort code 60 40 05, account number 32130058.

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