The website set up in the campaign to find missing Madeleine McCann, 4,
recorded 25 million hits yesterday as concerned users checked out the latest on
One part of the site — the “messages of support” section — had to be closed
down during the afternoon as its IT technicians struggled to cope with the
level of interest. The site has had more than 40 million hits since it went
live on May 9.
Calum Macrae, Director of Infohost, said: “In all my years in this business,
I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s unbelievable. As the media hype
spreads further and further across the globe, more and more people are visiting
and posting messages.
“To have 25 million hits in just one day is extraordinary.”
In Praia da Luz it emerged yesterday that Robert Murat, the official suspect in
the abduction of Madeleine McCann, hired a Hyundai Getz car despite owning his
own vehicle. He was taken in for questioning on Monday after using the car for
Detectives are awaiting the results of tests for DNA and fibres found at the villa
that Mr Murat shares with his mother, 100 metres from the Algarve holiday
apartment where Madeleine went missing 15 days ago. Search teams returned to Mr
Murat’s ¤700,000 (£400,000) villayesterday to seize more belongings as they
considered arresting him for abduction.
The timings of telephone calls allegedly made between Mr Murat, 33, and a
Russian computer expert on the night that Madeline was abducted are being
studied by detectives.
Officers yesterday started to reinterview many of those who joined the search
for Madeleine on the night she went missing, for evidence that Mr Murat was
present. His mother, Jennifer, 71, was asked to confirm his alibi that she was
having dinner with her son that night.
Mr Murat became a leading member of the search and acted as a police translator
for witnesses, including her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. It has emerged
that Mr Murat was reported to police after he became “impatient” as he insisted
that he needed to hire a vehicle on Saturday.
Maria Rocio, an agent at Auto Rent III Car Hire, said that Mr Murat was in a
hurry when he visited the shop. “There was something about his voice,” she
said. “He was saying, ‘I need to have it quickly’. His voice was impatient.”
She said that Mr Murat telephoned her shortly after midday on Saturday, saying
that he needed a car because his was being used to promote posters asking for
help in finding Madeleine. On the lease agreements, Mr Murat gave his wife’s
address in Norfolk,
his date of birth, and his British driving licence details.
When Mrs Rocio realised that Mr Murat had been interviewed by police, she
contacted them with her concerns.
Police were last night still examining property taken from the home of Serguei
Malinka, 22, a website designer who worked for Mr Murat. Officers removed two
desktop computers and a laptop from the home that Mr Malinka shares with his
Mr Malinka, who lives 500 yards from the McCanns’ holiday apartment, insisted
that he was “completely” innocent. He said: “I’ve invested seven years of my
life in this country trying to succeed, and suddenly in one hour it’s all
It is believed that detectives asked Mr Malinka about a tour company he was
involved with at Lagos Marina, 5 miles (8km) from Praia da Luz, which organised
boat trips to the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Detectives have searched the records of yachts that visited Lagos after receiving reports of a girl
resembling Madeleine being dragged to the marina.
Mr and Mrs McCann from Rothley, Leicestershire, have been co-ordinating the
Find Madeleine campaign to organise an international hunt. Its website received
five million hits in the first 24 hours after its launch on Wednesday.
Michael Wright, a relative of the McCanns, said: “Their ability to remain positive
and focus on what we can do rather than go to the dark places — that they have
perhaps visited in the early days — is where our focus is and it drives us all