Friday, March 09, 2007

The Trial....Day 12, March 7th

Day 12 began with a witness from the police Central Intelligence Unit (UCI in Spanish). This witness, an inspector in the UCI, shed some light on the some of the things we still do not know about concerning the bombings. She testified that her unit did not actually carry out the on site inspections of the places related to the bombings, their job is to analyse the information that is passed to them by other units. The witness is responsible for several reports issues on the established facts of what happened, including the Kangoo van found near to Alcalá railway station, the unexploded bomb discovered in Vallecas police station, genetic profiles from different places, and documentation or digital material recovered from residences used by those accused. She emphasised that the UCI is not responsible for the explosives analysis.

The witness certified that 13 rucksack bombs were placed on the trains, of which 10 exploded, 2 were detonated in controlled explosions by bomb disposal experts, and the 13th was the unexploded device discovered in Vallecas. The police assume from this figure that there were 13 people involved in placing the bombs, amongst them the 7 who committed suicide in the apartment in Leganés. She said that the police were certain that the bombers had used the Kangoo van and another Skoda car, but that they did not rule out the possibility of a third vehicle being used. The UCI believes that those responsible for placing the bombs on the trains travelled to the station of Alcalá de Henares in 3 groups. The witness said they cannot be certain that all of the bombers left from Alcalá, but the presence of the two vehicles suggests that at least some of them did.

On the issue of genetic profiles, the officer testified concerning those that were found in the apartment at Leganés. In addition to the 7 which have been positively identified as belonging to those who died there, she said that there are 3 other profiles that were found. Of these, one has been identified recently as being from Abdelilah Hriz, currently in prison in Morocco but who is now included in the accusation concerning the train bombings. The other two have not been identified, although one of these persons was also in the house in Morata de Tajuña where the bombs were prepared, and in the Skoda car found in Alcalá. The second profile was also identified in the house in Morata, as well as Leganés. In response to questions from the defence lawyer for Mohamed Bouharrat, the witness recognised that there were many unidentified fingerprints from objects in the Leganés apartment. Many of these have been found on books recovered from that apartment.

The second witness to appear is a police officer in the Provincial Information Brigade who was the first officer to make a visual inspection of the Kangoo van found near to Alcalá railway station. This officer has testified that when he looked through the van window he saw many objects mixed together, but nothing that appeared to have sufficient size to contain an explosive device. The witness emphasised that his task at this point was just to make a visual assessment from the exterior. He stated that on the basis of this inspection he believed that the van did not fit with the “modus operandi” used habitually by ETA. This assessment was based on elements common to many ETA actions; the Kangoo had no false number plate, no locks on the doors had been forced, and their seemed to be no device left in the van with the intention of destroying the vehicle and the evidence it might contain. The latter is common practice for ETA.

This officer was also present when an inspection of the van was made by sniffer dogs, an inspection which did not detect the presence of explosives. He also said that he inspected the van from the front and the side windows by the front seats, given that it was not possible to see inside from the rear. Following his inspection of the van he continued with other tasks assigned to him, checking to see whether there were any nearby security cameras that may have recorded something. He was also engaged in seeking witnesses who may be able to provide information about the van, one of these is the caretaker of a nearby building who will declare as a witness in the trial. This person has declared to the police that he saw 3 heavily dressed persons getting out of the van.

The third witness on day 12 was, Abdeldaker Farssaoiu, a police informer more commonly referred to by the name of “Cartagena”. This witness, who was at one point the imam of a mosque in Villaverde, offered a very different testimony in court to that which is contained in his declarations to the police and the investigating magistrate. He claimed that these differences were because he had been blackmailed and threatened by the police; and that his declarations contained what the police told him to say. He declared that he was a police informer because the police had forced him to do it, and the chief judge then forced him to reveal names of officers who he alleged had applied these pressures.

Cartagena told the court about meetings in Villaverde attended by radical Islamists including Serhane ben Abdelmajid (El Tunecino), Mustafá Maymouni and Faissal Alouch. Those present at these meetings would watch videos about Chechenia and Afghanistan, and sermons by radical clerics. Cartagena admitted having told the police that El Tunecino asked in one of these meetings whether those present were prepared to be martyrs for their cause. The witness also made an extraordinary claim linking the police to El Tunecino. He said that one day when he was in the area of Atocha in Madrid, he saw El Tunecino and Said Berraj passing on motor bikes. He decided to follow them, and said that they entered the same cafe where he normally had his contacts with the police. He claims he saw El Tunecino and a police officer seated at the same table.

He also claimed that on the 2 April 2004, when he was living in Almería, he was called by his police contacts saying they needed to see him urgently. He claimed that while he was praying at a mosque the next morning, police officers that he did not know arrived and asked him to accompany them to Madrid. On arrival in Madrid he stated that his usual police contact asked him to go to an apartment in Leganés because El Tunecino was there with some others. Cartagena claims he refused to do it because it would arouse suspicion. The siege of the apartment in Leganés took place on the 3rd April.

Finally, Cartagena claimed that he had documentary proof of the pressures received from the police but that he had voluntarily asked his wife to retrieve the computer disk containing this evidence from the mosque in Almería and destroy it. The witness was warned by the chief judge that he could face charges if his testimony was found to be false.

Cartagena is a continual favourite of the conspiracy theorists, mostly because he links the police with the bombings; but also because his continual changes of evidence give plenty to play with.

El Mundo - UCI witness
ABC - Police witness in Alcalá
ABC - Cartagena

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