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A man suspected of sexually abusing several minors claims to have witnessed the murder of 10-year-old Alexandra Brandt in 1994 - and police are now investigating whether he was involved in the murder.

Brandt failed to return home from her Ramat Gan school on November 24, 1994 and has been missing ever since. No body was ever found.

But during a remand hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court yesterday, police revealed that 23-year-old Oren Corrido claimed during interrogation last week that he had witnessed Brandt's murder.

Corrido was arrested two weeks ago, when a routine police patrol spotted him outside a public shelter embracing a young boy, who later told the police that Corrido had sexually assaulted him a few minutes earlier. Corrido has a long history of sexual offenses, and had been released from prison on parole just six months earlier after serving three years for sexually assaulting other minors. Police are now investigating him on four counts of sexual assault, including sodomy, against nine-year-old boys.

Under interrogation last week, however, Corrido suddenly volunteered the information that he had witnessed Brandt's murder. He said that he and three friends, whose names he gave, had abducted Brandt on her way home from school. His friends had intended to rape her, he said, for which purpose they took her to a nearby park. He said he did not know whether they had actually raped her, but he saw them kill her and bury her.

But when police took Corrido to the park last Tuesday to search for Brandt's body, they found nothing at the site where he said she was buried. The other three men Corrido named have not yet been arrested.

Corrido's lawyer, Binyamin Aharon, claims that his client fabricated the story under pressure from interrogators.

"He told me that after four hours of standing there, bound, the interrogator suddenly charged that he was involved in something much more serious than what they had discussed so far," Aharon said. "He told me that he thought to himself: `What would the most serious thing be? Obviously murder' - and then he invented the story of the missing girl."

Judge Muki Landman accepted Aharon's request that Corrido be sent for psychiatric testing, noting that "some of the things could certainly be the fruit of the suspect's chilling imagination."