Madeleine – Sergey Malinka’s Audi A4

An Audi A4 for someone of Sergey Malinka’s age in March 2008 seems quite an expensive and impressive car, so I did a bit of digging.

Mr Malinka’s car got fire-bombed in March 2008, whilst parked on Rua 25 de Abril, quite near to the apartment occupied by his parents and himself. The word Fala – Talk – was spray-painted on the pavement beside the wreck. As far as I know, no one has ever been brought to justice for this act.

I am looking at cars appearing in the history of Luz. The McCanns’ Renault Scenic was first-up, then I turned my attention to Sergey’s Audi A4. Cars in Portugal are extremely expensive, due to a scandalously high import tax. So I wondered how Mr Malinka could afford an A4, which got me thinking about how old Mr Malinka’s car was (they run forever in Portugal).

Fortunately, Mr Malinka’s A4 is in the PJ Files, and even better it appears in the dog-search videos. Here is (was) 10 91 FP. Portuguese licence plates now have a strip down the right hand side with the year and month of registration. The Audi does not have this, so it must pre-date this requirement. That means I have to work via the logo on the boot and the tail-light clusters.

From Sergey’s Audi A4 in the dog search.

There is a fairly distinctive boot shape. The tail light clusters have white reversing lights at the bottom centre. Thanks to all the petrol-heads in the world, I can date this shape from 1992 through to 1997.

After that, the rear end got a makeover. Here is a 1998 model.

This means Mr Malinka’s car was between 11 to 16 years old when it got torched. This may seem venerable, but as I have explained import taxes in Portugal are prohibitive, and because of this cars retain a much higher proportion of their purchase price than they do in the UK.

So the intriguing question remains as to how Sergey Malinka was able to afford an Audi A4 at his age.


Madeleine – Sergey Malinka FALA

On 20 Mar 2008 the good citizens of Luz awoke to find that Sergey Malinka’s Audi A4 had been fire-bombed. The word FALA had been sprayed on the pavement beside the car. This graffiti appears to have been done with a can of spray paint, and done freehand by someone who was not a graffiti artist. Indeed this daubing is so bad that I have seen the suggestion that a big blob at the top of the F in FALA is obscuring the Portuguese word ‘não’.

FALA is a command, to talk. não FALA is a command. Don’t talk!

Here is the standard image of the burned out Audi, complete with the word FALA.


The newspaper reports put this incident about 30m from Sergey’s apartment, which is actually the apartment his parents were renting. His parents are core to working out what went on when, so they should not be airbrushed out of history.

I could not tell from the standard image, or the story that went with it, precisely where this incident occurred. Fortunately there is a small image in circulation that shows the street level view. There is sufficient information in this photo to nail the fire bombing to one exact point. Notice the unusual window pattern, the overhead railings, the flight of steps and the wall colourings – right side brown and left side stone.


The following photo is from Google Streetview. It happens to be dated February 2015, but for anyone who cares to check, previous StreetView captures show the building is unchanged, though the STOP sign had been graffitied by Feb 2015. I picked the Feb 2015 version because it gives the clearest view of the building. Compare the features with the photo above and you can verify for yourself this is the correct location. In fact, the small red car is in the exact parking bay where Sergey’s car got torched. Google gives it as 3 Vinte Cinco de Abril.


The only point out of this tale that I wish to try to pick up on in this post is very simple. People living near to the Audi reported an explosion in the early hours of 20 Mar 2008. Sergey Malinka slept through it. However, he woke up to a large number of texts and missed phone calls.

Q1. How could Sergey possibly sleep through this explosion?


This graphic shows 3 locations. The vivid pink spot is where Martin Smith placed Smithman around 10pm on 3 May 2007. The junction of primary school street and 25 of April street.

The vivid yellow dot is where the Audi got torched. You can verify this for yourself by going into StreetView on 3 Rua Vinte Cinco de Maio and looking to the opposite side of the road, which pegs the site definitively.

The third dot is the fuzzy-edged vivid green dot. This is the building in which Sergey and parents were living at the time. I have never entered the building, so I can’t say exactly where Sergey was sleeping, which is why I have used a fuzzy dot. But does it matter?

The graphic shows that one or two blocks were shielding Sergey from the Audi commotion. Plus of course the noise had to penetrate the block in which he was sleeping. Should he have heard it? I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t know what it takes to torch an Audi, and I don’t know how much noise a torched Audi makes as it goes up.

There are more questions than answers here, but I shall not be trialling an Audi fire bomb experiment to close off some of these options.