Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Trial....Day 10, March 5th

Day 10 of the trial commenced with the continuing declaration by the chief inspector of the police Central External Information Unit (UCIE). This officer testified on how the police identified the house in Morata de Tajuña where it is alleged that the bombs for the trains were prepared. He talso estified that the principal clue leading them to the house came from the discovery that the cards used in the bombs were activated inside the range of the mobile phone antenna for Morata, and that two other cards used by Jamal Ahmidam had also been activated in this area. Questioned on whether his unit was aware of information allegedly passed by Rafá Zouhier to his controllers in the Guardia Civil, the witness said that his department never received any information on this.

The officer stated that the house in Morata originally came to the attention of his unit in September 2002, at the time it was being used by Mustafá Maymouni, currently held in prison in Morocco for possible involvement in terrorist attacks in Casablanca. He stated that the cell led by Maymouni began to fall apart as a result of increased police pressure following the 11th September 2001 attack in New York. He testified that with the departure from Spain of Maymouni the leadership of the group was assumed by Driss Chebli, detained in 2004 in another operation, and Serhane ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino, killed in Leganés). At one point the police requested authorization to tap a telephone belonging to El Tunecino, but in the end the suspect never used this phone. The witness said that El Tunecino and the brothers Moutaz and Mouhanned Almallah were being investigated by police in Madrid by the end of 2003. The house in Morata was rented by Jamal Ahmidam in January of 2004. On the question of why Spain was singled out for the attack, he expressed his opinion that the country was seen as the "weakest link" of the three countries who launched the invasion of Iraq at the meeting in the Azores.

The appearance of the second witness to testify, an inspector of the UCIE identified only by the number 81572, entered into details of the investigation in great detail with much of the testimony based on the study of telephone call records. Some of his testimony focused on the role of Hassan el Haski, accused of being one of the intellectual authors of the attacks, and also of being a leading figure in the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group (MIGC). The witness referred to statements made by another member of the group, Attila Turk, that El Haski arrived in France a few days before the Madrid bombings and asked to be accommodated in a secure place because “something could happen”. Additionally, according to this witness, El Haski revealed after the bombings that he knew Jamal Zougam, accused of being one of those who actually carried out the attacks. This witness claimed that the MIGC infrastructure in different European countries helped the fugitives Mohamed Afalah, Youssef Belhadj, and Abdelmajid Bouchar to escape after the bombings. The unit to which this police witness belongs specialises in Islamist terrorism, and it was not until the 17th March that they took charge of the investigation.

The chief judge of the tribunal yesterday acted to prevent lawyers who are supposedly participating as representatives of parties to the accusation, from raising issues related to the conspiracy theories. This affects those lawyers representing victims associations close to the promotors of the conspiracy theories. The judge made it clear that legally they must either support the accusation or withdraw from the process. He also quashed questions from a defence lawyer based on an El Mundo story claiming the police had no authorisation to examine registers of telephone calls in their search for evidence. The judge ruled that no special legal authorisation was required for them to do this.


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