The little boy’s mother had worn the scarf, knitted by Gabriel’s grandmother, every day since he disappeared in the hamlet of Las Hortichuelas, near Níjar, on February 27.
Gabriel had last worn it himself the weekend before he vanished when he went skiing.
Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido has been very close to Patricia and her ex-husband Ángel Cruz, Gabriel’s father, since the child disappeared and since, two weeks later, his body was found in the boot of Ángel’s girlfriend’s car.
Patricia said the scarf ‘reminded her of Gabriel’s happy smiles’ on his skiing trip when he was wearing it, and Zoido, visibly moved by the gift, called it ‘a real honour’.
He has since been seen carrying it around with him.
Gabriel’s funeral was yesterday (Tuesday) morning at 10.30, but he was not cremated as planned since police may need to obtain further proof.
Officers involved in the huge 13-day search have admitted that they expected to find Gabriel alive until ‘the very last minute’.
They broke down in tears when they uncovered the child’s body in Ana Julia Quezada’s boot in Vícar, 80 kilometres from where he disappeared.
Quezada confesses to Gabriel’s murder
Quezada, 44, has finally cracked and begun to cooperate with police, after initially refusing to answer their questions, even during the reconstructions she was ordered to participate in.
She has confessed to killing Gabriel ‘during a row’ and hitting him with the handle of an axe and admits she was the only person involved.
The post-mortem shows Gabriel was strangled within hours of his going missing at 15.30 in the 100-metre stretch separating his grandmother’s house from that of his aunt and cousins.
He had also suffered a blow to the head, causing serious injury, but his death was said to be due to asphyxiation.
Quezada, originally from the Dominican Republic and has lived in Spain for 23 years, admitted to dumping Gabriel’s clothing in a landfill site before disposing of his body in a well on the Rodalquilar farm near Níjar which is owned by Ángel’s family.
She was caught on camera moving the body into her car after police successfully ‘trapped’ her by announcing in her presence that they planned to search the farm the next day.
Officers said they ‘wanted to believe’ that, although they suspected Quezada, she and ‘some accomplice or another’ had kidnapped him and were holding him hostage against his will in order to claim ransom money.
Meanwhile, the ambassador for the Dominican Republic in Madrid, Olivo Rodríguez, has expressed his ‘deep distress’ and ‘solidarity’ with Spain and with Gabriel’s family, saying the national community from the Caribbean island on Spanish soil is ‘crying with and thinking of’ them.