Friday, February 16, 2007

The Trial....Day 1, February 15th

Anyone who had high hopes of dramatic revelations on the first day of the trial will have been disappointed. After some initial formalities, including the naming of the accused and the reading of the charges, the trial began with the appearance of Rabei Osman El Sayed Ahmed, accused of being one of the main organisers of the bombings. Ahmed initially refused to answer any of the questions put to him stating that he did not recognise any accusation, and that he would answer no questions, not even from his own lawyer. He then attempted to make a statement, but the chief judge refused to let him proceed.

The chief prosecutor, Olga Sánchez, read out questions that she wanted Ahmed to answer, but no answers were provided. Other lawyers representing other parties to the accusation also were permitted to read their questions, but the response was the same. It was only later that Ahmed declared that he would be prepared to answer questions put to him by his own defence lawyer, but by nobody else.

El Egipcio, a man of few words....

The afternoon session was taken up by his responses to these questions. He denied any kind of participation in the planning or execution of the bombings, or any connection of any kind with those who carried out the bombings. The only contact that he admitted to with those suspected of implementing the bombings was with Serhane Ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino), one of those who died in the explosion in the flat in Leganés. However, Ahmed claimed that El Tunecino was just his Spanish teacher. In other answers he stated that he condemned the bombings, and that he had bever been involved in the distribution of books praising jihad.

In the end the evidence against him is almost entirely reliant on the conversations that were secretly recorded by the Italian police, although the Spanish police are reported to suspect that he was present at some point in the house near Chinchón where the explosives were prepared. In these recorded conversations Ahmed claimed that the bombings were his idea. There is no DNA evidence linking him to any of the sites connected with the preparation of the attacks.

A couple of footnotes from the first day:

The lawyer representing the Asociación de Victimas de Terrorismo (AVT) , an organisation which aligns itself with the conspiracy theorists, asked a question about links with other terrorist organisations. We shall see what happens with the AVT, but I predict that their lawyers will ask more questions of this kind when they know they will receive no answer; it is a way of raising issues for propaganda value, safe in the knowledge that nobody is going to answer them. A technique used recently in the trial of 3 ETA members.

The chief judge of the tribunal, Javier Gómez Bermúdez, is attracting a lot of attention for his very firm, but open, handling of the first day of the trial. He is not beyond controversy himself, his appointment to his current position had to be repeated 3 times because of challenges to the way it was done. He seems at the moment to be going out of his way to avoid any suggestion that the trial will not be fairly heard.


The Guardian
The Times
The Washington Post


El Mundo
El País

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

¡ Y vale ya!