Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Trial....Day 17, March 20th

Day 17 began with the focus once again on the unexploded bomb discovered early on the morning of 12th March 2004 in the police station at Puente de Vallecas. The two police officers (police numbers 88163 and 79046) who made the discovery have described how they were instructed to carry out an inventory of personal effects that had been recovered from the train at the station of El Pozo. This task began at around 22:00 p.m. on the night of the 11th March. At approximately 1:45 a.m., one of these agents opened the bag containing the bomb and removed the mobile phone she saw inside; only to find that it was connected by cables to a plastic wrapped package. The other agent involved said that on the plastic bag inside the main bag was a piece of paper with the number 5 written on it.

The possessions they were checking had been placed in large rubbish bags which had been closed with a knot. The witnesses said that there were many different items inside the rubbish bags, such as shoes, clothes, wallets, rucksacks and other kinds of bag. The aim of the inventory was to find something which could identify the owner of each item, and to create a register of all items checked. The officer who opened the bag with the bomb testified that it was a sports bag, and that it was noticeably heavy. Once they noticed the cables exiting the mobile telephone in the bag, they advised a superior officer that the station should be evacuated. This superior officer advised the bomb disposal squad about the existence of the bomb. In total, 17 bags full of personal effects were checked as part of the inventory process.

In the same session there have been declarations by police witnesses who accompanied the bags of personal effects as they were transported from the station of El Pozo. The journey was not a direct one, at first they were taken to the police station of Villa de Vallecas, from which they were redirected to that of Puente de Vallecas. However, from there they were told to take the bags to the Ifema exhibition centre, which had been converted into an emergency centre and temporary morgue. After spending some time at this centre, the bags were once again taken to the police station of Puente de Vallecas. The bags were only unloaded at Ifema, and finally on the second visit to Puente de Vallecas. Only one of today’s witnesses accompanied the bags on all of their stops. The total number of bags taken from El Pozo was not recorded, but the witnesses have testified that they filled two police vans with these personal effects.

One witness, identified with police number 89324, described how the bags were stored temporarily at Ifema in an area that was cordoned off. This witness returned to Puente de Vallecas but almost immediately had to return to Ifema to collect the bags again. He testified that the bags were exactly as they had been when deposited there shortly before. On arriving again with the bags at Puente de Vallecas, they were left in a room that was locked.

The following witnesses testified on a Skoda car which is alleged by the prosecution to have been another vehicle used by those who placed the bombs. This car was not found until the 15th June 2004, when it was discovered in the street called Infantado in Alcalá de Henares. The car, which had been stolen, was initially returned to its owners; the car hire firm Hertz. Only when it was taken to a workshop to be checked were objects discovered inside it that are relevant to the train bombings case. The witness with police number 86520 was called to this workshop to inspect the vehicle; in the boot he saw a suitcase, a plastic bag, two alarm clocks and a tube of glue.

The scientific police arrived at the scene to inspect the vehicle and take photographs. Dog handlers were also called, one of the two dogs used to inspect the car showed signs of having detected something, although no explosives were discovered. The witnesses appearing from the scientific police testified that they found a Palestinian headscarf, a balaclava, trousers, a polo shirt, a pistol holster, an empty mobile telephone packaging, and two tapes with Arabic inscriptions. They tested the tapes in the car cassette and found they contained Arabic chants.

Next on this busy day, testimony focused on the house in Morata de Tajuña where the prosecution alleges the bombs were prepared. Two witnesses from the Central Unit for External Information (UCIE in Spanish) have testified on an inspection they made of this property on the 26th March 2004. One of them declared that they were able to enter the property with keys that were provided to them by Hamid Ahmidam, cousin of Jamal Ahmidam (the person who had rented this property). Hamid Ahmidam had been arrested the day before in connection with the train attacks. The witnesses were accompanied in their visit by officers from the scientific police and the bomb disposal squad (Tedax). In a pit lined with bricks, the police discovered traces of explosives, although according to one of the witnesses the sniffer dogs did not detect the presence of explosive substances. Inside the house samples were collected for DNA and fingerprint tests. Some documentation was discovered as well. Outside of the house the police discovered a bag containing some used detonators, and some firearms cartridges.

Finally, two witnesses from the UCIE testified about a search that was made of the residence of Hamid Ahmidam, located in the Madrid street of Cerro de los Angeles. During this search they discovered a significant quantity of drugs, hashish and tablets, together with 19000 euros in cash and documentation of sales made. Fake documentation in the name of Jamal Ahmidam was also discovered during this search.
At least part of the day was again dominated by the parallel trial being conducted by the conspiracy theorists. The reason that so much attention is devoted to the route taken by the personal possessions from El Pozo is because the conspiracy theorists try to pretend that the chain of custody may not have been maintained, thus allowing the mysterious "someone" to plant the Vallecas bomb. Nothing new emerged today on this issue that wasn't already known, the bags were moved from place to place in the confusion of the day of the bombings. However, nothing has emerged suggesting anything especially unusual took place with these possessions recovered from one of the trains where bombs exploded.

El Mundo - Vallecas Bomb
El País - Vallecas Bomb
El Mundo - Skoda Car
ABC - House in Morata

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