Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Trial....Day 11, March 6th

The first witness to appear on day 11 of the trial was another police officer from the Central Unit for External Information (UCIE in Spanish). This officer, an inspector specializing in the area of the Maghreb in North Africa, revealed that within 48 hours of the bombings the police were already looking for Serhane ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino). The inspector recognised that El Tunecino was known to the police and that they were aware of his strong influence over a group of radical Muslims. When the police arrived at the residence of El Tunecino on the 13th March 2004, it soon became evident to them that there was nobody there. The owner, who lived in the same building, informed them that El Tunecino had always paid his rent on time until March. The absence of El Tunecino put the police on alert for his possible involvement in the bombings.

In the case of the man accused of being the operational leader of the bombings, Jamal Ahmidam (El Chino), the police went to the house of his brothers on the 26th March 2004. The elder brother, Mustafá, allegedly told the police that he had sharply criticised Jamal for his involvement in the bombings, and that El Chino had replied to him that “more than 200 people die in Palestine and Iraq, and nobody cares”. This police witness also referred to Rifaat Anouar who died alongside El Tunecino and El Chino in the Leganés suicide. He said that a friend of Anouar gave the police valuable information, and that Anouar had eventually moved to the residence in the Madrid street of Virgen del Coro which was shared by some of the others accused. The phrase pronounced by this witness that has perhaps had most resonance in the media has been “The great problem was that we were always one step behind them”.

The following witness was also an officer from the UCIE, identified by the number 87561. This witness provided the court with details of some of the first steps in the investigation that followed the discovery of the telephone used as a timer in the unexploded bomb that was found amongst personal effects in a police station in Vallecas, Madrid. This witness stated that he participated in the detention of the Indian owners of the shop, Bazar Top, where this telephone was sold. The prosecution alleges that on the 3rd March 2004, a man bought three telephones like the one found in the unexploded bomb from this shop, and ordered six more for the following day. According to one of the owners of the shop, the man buying the phones, and another who accompanied him, spoke in a strange language and when he asked them what it was, they replied “Bulgaria”.

This witness also testified that he participated in several interrogations of those accused of participating in the bombings, and house searches including those of Saed el Harrak and Hamid Ahmidam. He said that in the latter’s home they discovered a telephone card linked to some of the Leganés suicides. In the case of El Harrak, documentation was discovered which linked him to the group responsible. The witness also talked of the connection between Nasredine Bousbaa and El Chino, Bousbaa being accused of having falsified passports which were found in the wreckage of the Leganés apartment.

The final witness to appear on day 11 was an analyst from the Elcano Royal Institute, Haizam Amirah Fernández. This witness testified about a document that was posted on the internet in December 2003, and which called for “painful blows” to be struck against Spain before the March 2004 elections. Fernández testified that the document was prepared by someone who knew well the Spanish political situation, and who knew that public opinion was against the intervention in Iraq.

The court authorised the testing of a sample of Titadine dynamite captured from an ETA commando less than two weeks before the Madrid bombings. The ongoing explosives tests were supposed to conclude with tests on a sample from the French manufacturer, but it appears that the factory is now closed. Expect the conspiracy theorists to get excited about this prospect, although it is unlikely to bring them any satisfactory results. Anything which raises even the slightest possibility of Titadine having been used causes this excitement, because it is an explosive frequently used by ETA.


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