MALINKA: ‘I’m not a criminal,’ he said

Friday May 18, 2007

By David Piditch and Matt Drake in Praia da Luz

A RUSSIAN computer expert questioned by police searching for Madeleine McCann is reported to have boasted to former colleagues how he had sex with an under-age girl.

Two women who worked with internet geek Sergey Malinka, 22, alleged he was a “sexual predator” who preyed on young girls.

The claims came as it was reported Malinka had phoned prime-suspect Robert Murat just 30 minutes after Madeleine, four, was snatched from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal.

It is understood there were several phone calls between Malinka and Murat, 33, that night. But there is no suggestion that the calls had anything to do with her disappearance.

Yesterday Malinka insisted he was not involved in Madeleine’s kidnap and denied claims he was a paedophile.

He is very clever with computers and knows everything there is to know about them

But a former women colleague at an Algarve internet firm claimed Malinka boasted he had sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl.

When she told him he could be arrested she said he simply laughed it off. He also claimed he had seduced the 16-year-old daughter of a Portuguese girlfriend. Another ex-woman work colleague at a different firm told how she found downloaded pornography on his computer. She said: “It was top- shelf stuff, boys’ stuff, blue movies. I didn’t mention it to him.

“He is very clever with computers and knows everything there is to know about them.

“But he is also very cocky and not entirely reliable. He wants to earn big money but doesn’t want to put the work in.”

The search for Madeleine was given fresh hope last night after details emerged of a possible sighting in Lisbon 180 miles north of where she was snatched 15 days ago.

Police revealed last night that they were hunting a red van with fake number plates in a southern suburb after a witness reported seeing a child fitting Maddy’s description. She was taken from her family’s holiday apartment at 9.30pm while her parents, Kate and Gerry, were dining 40 yards away.

Police reportedly put oddball Murat under surveillance after he began to interfere with the police search operation.
It was reported that police have also kept watch on Moscow-born Malinka for at least the last five days.

Yesterday Malinka denied claims he had images of sexual violence on his computer. He said police had returned a laptop and two desktop computers seized from the flat he shares with his parents – half a mile from the McCann’s apartment.

The Russian was released early yesterday after a six-hour quiz. Malinka, who set up a business website for Murat’s property company, denied he had a criminal record.

He said: “The Portuguese press said they found some paedophile content on my computer. That is a lie. Nothing has been found. My equipment has been released and returned to me.“I’m trying to help in any way possible.”

Yesterday Murat’s mother Jennifer was being quizzed over his claim he spent the evening with her the night of the abduction.

Mrs Murat was a key figure in the initial search for Madeleine and played a major part in printing and distributing posters of the child.

Click HERE to go to Madeleine’s website.

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