Monday, February 19, 2007

The Trial....Day 3, February 19th

The 3rd day began with the continuation of the declaration of Jamal Zougam. Although on day 2 Zougam had been prepared to accept questions from the prosecution, he changed his position over the weekend and made it clear he would now only take questions from his own defence lawyer. In his responses to these questions he condemned the train attacks, denied any connection with any of the places connected with the bombings, and also denied any involvement with terrorist organisations. Zougam suggested that his current position could be due to revenge on the part of the police, as he had refused on two separate occasions to become a police informer. When asked by the judge why he had not mentioned this before the trial, he said it was because he feared police reprisals. Zougam finished his testimony by stating "I still do not understand why I am in this trial".

Zougam testifies

After the declaration by Jamal Zougam came that of another defendant accused of being involved in the actual execution of the attacks, the Syrian citizen Basel Ghalyoun. Following the now familiar pattern, Ghalyoun denied any connection with the attacks but he did not refuse to accept questions from the prosecution. He denied knowing Jamal Zougam, although he did admit having visited the shop owned by Zougam in the Madrid district of Lavapies. He claimed that he had been there to buy an accessory for his mobile phone, even though he was living at the time quite far from Lavapies.

One of the main pieces of evidence against him is that traces of his DNA were found on a cap that was recovered from the apartment in Leganés where 7 members of the group committed suicide. Ghalyoun responded to questions on this by claiming that the cap could have been taken there by Rifaat Anouar, one of those who committed suicide and a friend of his. He was also questioned on his relationship with Serhane ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino), who he said he had last spoken to at the beginning of 2004. Having declared to the police that El Tunecino had justified attacks on targets in Spain because of Spanish intervention in Iraq, Ghalyoun rectified this in the courtroom by saying that this had just been a reference to robberies rather than terrorist actions.

He also acknowledged knowing 3 others of those standing trial, Fouad el Morabit, Larbi ben Sellam and Moutaz Almallah. Ghalyoun shares the same defence lawyer as Jamal Zougam, and was asked the same questions as Zougam about his membership of different terrorist organisations – he denied any relationship with any of them. He claimed that on the day of the bombings he awoke early to pray but then went back to bed until 10 a.m. On his identification by a witness from one of the trains where bombs exploded, he replied that this identification was based on photographs and not on an identification parade.

After the declaration by Ghalyoun came the turn of Abdelmajid Bouchar, who also accepted questions from the prosecution as well as his own defence lawyer. It is Bouchar who is alleged to have fled the Leganés apartment after realising that the police were present around the building. His passport and public transport travel card were found in the rubble of the apartment, but Bouchar argued that these documents had been lost or stolen at the end of March 2004. He claimed that on the day he was allegedly seen leaving the Leganés apartment, he was actually at his home in Fuenlabrada, also near to Madrid.

Questioned on why his genetic profile was identified on date stones found in the rubbish bag from the apartment, he chose not to answer. He also refused to answer a question on telephone contacts he maintained with Abdennabi Kounjaa, another of those who committed suicide in Leganés. He denied knowing any of the other members of the group who died in the explosion in that apartment. A further question he avoided concerned his identification by a witness leaving an Atocha bound train in the station of Entrevias. On the day of the bombings he said that he was at his home in Fuenlabrada.

Bouchar, like all others questioned, condemned the attacks. He was extradited from Serbia in 2005 and explained to the court that between leaving Spain and arriving in Belgrade he passed through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Hungary. He claims to have made this journey of over a year with just 1600 euros to live on, and that nobody helped him. He said that he left Spain because he had heard that the police were arresting “many Arabs” in the aftermath of the bombings.


Notice the many appearances in testimony of El Tunecino, killed in the explosion of Leganés, he seems to be emerging as the central figure. Of the 3 defendants who declared on day 3 it seems that Bouchar is in the weakest position because the weight of evidence against him appears more substantial. A question for conspiracy theorists; if the Leganés suicide was a police setup - as the conspiracy theorists would have us believe - why leave messy loose ends such as someone who is still alive, flees the building and denies being there?


El Mundo - Basel Ghalyoun
El Mundo - Abdelmajid Bouchar


Anonymous said...

Zougam.....Scapegoat in a Plot?

Anonymous said...

Gayum.....Scapegoat in a Plot?