STAFF REPORTER
PALMA

EXTRA numbers of Guardia Civil officers, including those who are specialised in constructing photofit pictures, are heading for Majorca to help the search for Alejandro de Abarca, alias “The Dwarf,” who is suspected of the murder of Ana Niculai - the 25-year-old Romanian woman found dead in the boot of a burned out car in Muro last Monday.

The news was given yesterday by Central Government Delegate to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, who was speaking during a visit to the water pumping station at Sa Costera accompanied by other government figures.

Socias said he was confident that the search for De Abarca would soon be over thanks to the security force operations which are “leaving no stone unturned” particularly in the outlying areas of the island.

De Abarca should have returned to Palma prison from a weekend release and a social rehabilitation session last Monday morning. An immediate search and arrest warrant was issued when he failed to return.

Socias said that the Guardia Civil, and the Local and National Police forces are concentrating closing the net on the access and exit routes from Majorca. Officers are on the alert not to allow De Abarca to escape - the murder suspect is a metre-and-a-half high, with close-cropped hair and a large tattoo on one arm.

Socias praised the work that the security forces have done so far, identifying the suspect through roadside CCTV cameras and by means of witness statements.

Meanwhile, a young woman has lodged an official complaint with the Guardia Civil that De Abarca had attempted to kidnap her on Friday, the day before yesterday, in Muro. Her motorcycle had broken down but when a man answering the description of De Abarca offered to help her by putting the motorcycle into his own vehicle, she recognised him and fled.

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil said yesterday that it was not possible at this point to confirm that the alleged kidnapper was indeed De Abarca. The security forces still believe that De Abarca has “gone to ground” at some isolated property, possibly in the heart of the S'Albufera nature reserve after he had abandoned the burning car in Muro with the body of Ana Nicolai in its boot.

The search for De Abarca as the author of the crime was stepped up after the owners of a petrol station in Muro identified him as the person who bought a five-litre can of fuel on Monday, the day the car was torched. He had apparently got out of an Audi A4, the same vehicle which was later found in flames.

De Abarca already has a police record for various crimes including sexual aggression and after several years in prison had most recently been attending a rehabilitation centre.

Police sources say that the meeting between the alleged murderer and his victim was “accidental” and that there was no previous connection. De Abarca apparently decided to kidnap Ana Niculai when she was leaving a garage car park for work at a bar she managed in Calle Socorro in Palma. Police however, are still not clear on the sequence of events from the time of Niculai's kidnapping to the moment when her charred body was found in the boot of the car with her hands tied behind her back.

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