Murder trial underway in Las Palmas over strangulation of disabled homeless man in Playa del Inglés
A wheelchair-bound homeless man, Stefan Putreanu, 61, was strangled and his body burned at an unused kiosk where he used to sleep in Playa del Inglés last year. The man accused of his murder, known only as Ali GG, has denied any involvement in the killing during the dramatic first days of his murder trial, which started on Monday before a jury in Las Palmas.
Turkish born Ali GG, of Spanish nationality, is accused of having strangled the disabled vagrant and then set his body on fire at the abandoned kiosk, on January 11, 2019, but has denied that he was ever at the scene of the crime.
“I have not killed anyone,” said Ali GG, 44, during the first session of the trial against him and his girlfriend, Roberta S, who face, up to 18 years in prison for the crime of murder.
Ali GG. admits that he only knew Putreanu because he claims that the homeless man had stabbed him back in 2017, at a bar; and because he used to pass the kiosks on his way to the shopping centre where he worked selling tourist excursions.
Cameras captured images of the accused man passing near the kiosk at around 9am that morning. “They are accusing me of something I have not done,” said Ali GG, whose lawyer, Javier de la Llave, presented expert evidence alleging, in his opinion, that it takes from four to five minutes to strangle and kill a person, which does not fit well with the video footage which, says the lawyer, would have only given his client about 40 seconds in which to commit the crime.
Furthermore, the autopsy report recorded the likely time of death at between 12.30pm and 5pm that day, however his client had been recorded passing the kiosk more than 3 hours before that, without any reason to believe he had returned there. Ali GG.’s lawyer also points to an utter lack of DNA or other evidence placing his client at the scene, stressing that his client was not the the only person who passed through that area on the day and yet because of the previous altercation it seems his client as now seen “as a scapegoat” for a crime he says he did not commit.
The prosecutor maintains that there is a chain of evidence that “undoubtedly” points to the accused having carried out the killing, alleging that the he arrived at about 09:00 on January 11, 2019, at the abandoned kiosks, in the Parque Europeo in Playa del Inglés, where the man used to sleep at night, and strangled him, without the man having any possibility of defending himself as he was lying down and not wearing his orthopedic prostetic legs.
According to the prosecutor, hours later, that afternoon, the accused, accompanied by his partner of Irish nationality, Roberta S., who was also arrested on suspicion of being an accomplice to murder, and both of whom lived in San Fernando, returned to the scene and in order to erase the traces of his crime, they say he sprayed the body with alcohol, or another accellerant, and set it on fire, while she watched out in case anyone else appeared.
During the second day of the trial, yesterday, several witnesses seemed to cast doubt on the prosecution case, testifying that they had seen Putreanu in an agitated state, but very much alive, that same afternoon, around 2pm and 5pm. One witness claims he saw another person rifling through the homeless man’s possessions, but that he did not recognise him as the accused. Another says he saw a tall man spraying liquid where the fire started, and leaving the scene by jumping over a wall, saying too that he did not think this was Ali GG.
Ali GG’s son also gave evidence that the police had been coercive, but that his father was not a violent man.
The trial continues.