Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Trial....Day 6, February 26th

Day 6 of the trial began with the resumption of the questioning of Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed (El Egipcio), who initially declared on day 1 of the trial but was subsequently offered the opportunity to listen to the main evidence against him before continuing; recordings made by the Italian police at his home in Milan where he allegedly claimed responsibility for planning the bombings. “That voice is not mine, it is not me talking” he declared, denying that he had ever made the claims recorded by the police.

He was also questioned about calls he made to a friend resident in Belgium, Mourad Chabarou, on the 24th May 2004. In this conversation El Egipcio is said to have made references to the “brothers” in Madrid who were now in heaven. In the courtroom he recognised that this was a reference to Serhane ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino) and the others who committed suicide in Leganés, claiming that he had only seen on this day that one of the dead in the explosion was El Tunecino. In his replies he also stated that another accused, Fouad el Morabit, was a normal person with no connections to extremism; but that he thought when he first saw the news about Leganés that El Morabit may have been with El Tunecino, as they were friends. El Egipcio said that he used the word “brother” to refer to anyone of Muslim faith, and that he was completely innocent. “I am a normal person and I have nothing to do with this terrorist act” he declared at the end.

Next to be questioned was Mohamed Bouharrat. Some passport size photographs of him were found in the wreckage of the apartment in Leganés, as well as fingerprints on a book found in the same place. On being detained he claimed that a Renault car that he used belonged to the fugitive Mohamed Afalah, but in the court he said it belonged to someone else. He accused the police of hitting and threatening him to get the initial declaration. He also initially declared to the police that he had been offered 5000 euros to transport explosives to Algeciras in the south of Spain. In court he stated that he had the opportunity to take drugs to Algeciras but that he did not do it.

On the photographs found in Leganés, he stated that these came from some clothes that he left in a bag inside a Renault car belonging to someone called “Abderraman”, and that the traces on the book were probably there because he touched this book inside the car. Bouharrat said that he was never inside the apartment in Leganés. He admitted to knowing the fugitives Mohamed Afalah and Said Berraj, arguing that they had been workmates of his. He denied ever having been involved in the identification of possible objectives for terrorist actions.

Following Bourrat to the stand was Mohamed Moussaten, a nephew of Youssef Belhadj. Both Mohamed and his brother Brahim Moussaten had declared to the police that their uncle had told them he belonged to Al-Qaeda. Now Mohamed denied that Belhadj had told him this, declaring that he had made this statement under police pressure. He also denied that he had watched videos of combat and executions together with his uncle, or that Belhadj had talked to him about holy war. He claimed that the police had obliged him to declare that his uncle was one of the three people appearing in the video claiming responsibility for the attacks. The chief judge ordered the reading of his police declaration to the court, and also the transcript of a face to face hearing with his uncle made before the investigating magistrate.

In response to further questions, Moussaten claimed that the majority of his friends were Spanish, and that at the time of the attacks he even had a Spanish girlfriend. On his religious beliefs, he said he knew enough to be able to pray. Most of the questions he faced concerned his uncle.

Brahim Moussaten supported the version offered by his brother when it came to his turn to testify, denying that his uncle was connected to radical Islamist groups. Brahim only accepted questions from his own defence lawyer. He said that the declaration he made to the police about the supposed relationship between his uncle and Al-Qaeda was made under threats, including some made by a Moroccan police officer.

Concerning the accusations of assisting the escape from Spain of Mohamed Afalah, he said he had no reason to suspect that Afalah had anything to do with the train bombings. He denied having ever been in the house at Morata de Tajuña or in the apartment in Leganés where 7 members of the group responsible for the bombings committed suicide. Brahim Moussaten stated he knew none of those who committed suicide and denied that he ever called Abdelmajid Bouchar, the accused alleged to have fled the apartment before the police siege and subsequent explosion.

Last to testify on day 6 was Mahmoud Slimane Aoun, accused by the prosecution of maintaining numerous telephone contacts with Jamal Ahmidam (El Chino) between the middle of January and the end of February 2004. On the day before El Chino is said to have gone to Asturias for the explosives, it is alleged there were five calls between the two men. Nevertheless, Slimane claimed that El Chino and he were enemies because the latter had insulted him for being a Shia muslim. He said he could not recall the telephone calls, and that from the times recorded many of them were made after midnight when he was asleep.

Telephone records also show more than 140 calls between Slimane and Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil between January 1st and March 26th 2004. Slimane claims that these contacts concerned vehicle repairs. He denied having been involved in falsifying documentation, saying that he barely knows how to write and has two mutiliated fingers on his right hand. His testimony continues on day 7.


El Mundo - Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed
El Mundo - Mohamed Bouharrat
El Mundo - Moussaten brothers
El Mundo - Mahmoud Slimane Aoun

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