By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE prime suspect in the murder of 25-year-old Romanian Ana Niculai did not take as long as expected to crack yesterday when he admitted to a preliminary hearing in an Inca court that he did kill the young woman and later torched the car in which she was locked in the boot in an attempt to erase any clues.

Security was extremely tight around the Inca courthouse yesterday as scores of angry members of the public gathered to heckle Alejandro de Abarca, alias “the dwarf.” Some managed to break through the police cordon as he was taken away from the courthouse and assaulted the police vehicle in which he was travelling as tensions reached fever pitch.

De Abarca claims that he did not intend to kill Ana Niculai and that his only plan was to steal her boyfriend's car as she parked in an underground car park in the centre of Palma before going to work in the bar she ran in Calle Socorro.

According to De Abarca's account of events on Monday, July 19, he drove the stolen Audi A4 to the Son Banya shanty town on the outskirts of Palma near the airport, with Niculai inside. There he bought five grammes of heroin and an undisclosed quantity of speed.

According to De Abarca's statement, he then injected a serious amount of the drug and suddenly became very nervous.
It was during this period that he is suspected of having also injected Niculai with what was to apparently prove two fatal doses of heroin. The first was to calm her down, the second, according to sources close to the case, to kill her.

According to the suspect's statement he does not know at which point after that the victim died because he was under the influence of drugs, but he apparently admitted to later locking her in the boot of the stolen car with her hands tied behind her back and setting it alight along the Muro to Ca'n Picafort road in an attempt to erase any clues.

Last night, investigators had fresh doubts over when the victim was set alight.
He apparently told the court of how he continued to be in a state of nerves after setting the vehicle alight and decided to go on the run because he was scared of being arrested for car theft.

De Abarco appeared in court shortly after 1.30pm and after a 90 minute hearing, the judge presiding over the case ordered that the suspect and investigating officers from the Guardia Civil accompany him to the Albufera and surrounding area where the crime took place and where the suspect had been hiding to retrace De Abarca's steps and reconstruct the tragic and brutal events of July 19.

It was when he was taken under tight security to the reconstruction scene that tension outside the courthouse exploded. But fortunately there were no major incidents.

The prosecution is asking that De Abarca be held on remand and denied bail.