Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Trial....Day 19, March 26th

The Asturian Connection

This day of the trial has been principally focused on the group from Asturias who are accused of having provided the explosives used in the train bombs. The first witness, identified as N-88, was an inmate of the prison of Villabona in 2003; and has testified that he informed the Guardia Civil that Emilio Suárez Trashorras and Antonio Toro were attempting to sell explosives. The witness recognised that the source for this information came from fellow inmate José Ignacio Fernández Díaz (known as Nayo), who is currently believed to be in the Dominican Republic. He said that Nayo told him that Trashorras and Toro trafficked with explosives stolen from a mine, which he identified as being the Conchita mine from which the explosives used in the train bombings are said to have been stolen from. This witness also said that Nayo told him that the accused had attempted to sell explosives to ETA, and that ETA had tried to steal the explosives rather than buy them.

After this witness came another who is a friend of two of those accused of assisting in the transfer of the explosives from Asturias to Madrid in February 2004; Sergio Álvarez and Iván Reis. The witness could not confirm whether the accused had told him that they were transporting hashish or pirate compact discs. He said that both told him about their journey to Madrid with bags that are alleged to have contained stolen explosives. He also claimed that Iván Reis told him about the incident with Jamal Ahmidam on arrival in Madrid, where Ahmidam took the other mans wallet and mobile telephone because Reis was not carrying an envelope he expected to receive.

Also declaring on the group associated with supplying the explosives was an ex-girlfriend of Rafá Zouhier. During her testimony Zouhier was expelled from the court because of gestures and noise he made during the testimony of the witness. This witness declared that she knew Zouhier was mixed up in "strange things", and that he had told her he was a police informer to try and convince her he was not a criminal. On an incident where Zouhier is alleged to have hurt himself experimenting with a detonator, she said she was not present when it happened and that Zouhier told her the injury to his hand was caused by a mobile phone. She said that later she saw the damage caused by the explosion to a mattress, and that she saw the wounds to the face caused by the same event to another accused, Rachid Aglif. This witness was also present at meetings alleged to be concerned with the sale of the explosives, one of which was held at a branch of McDonalds in Moncloa, Madrid. She declared that she never trusted Zouhier and that he was a violent person. When asked if he appeared to be a radical Islamist, she said that he observed Ramadam and prayed, but that he also went out at night and drank alcohol. She said he was anti-American and anti-Jewish.

An other witness with close connections to those accused of the explosives theft was Francisco Javier Villazón Lavandera. This witness declared that in the summer of 2001 Antonio Toro was offering explosives to all and sundry in the nightclub/brothel called Horóscopo (located in Gijón, Asturias) where Lavandera worked as a doorman. Lavandera said that Toro even asked him to find a buyer for the explosives. The witness said that Toro told him he had protection and that if Lavandera was caught, Toro could free him with a telephone call to this person. He said that Toro suggested to him that he could transport explosives to the Basque country. He also declared that Toro showed him some sticks of Goma 2 ECO that he had stored in the boot of his car, he was able to identify the dynamite because he had worked in the past as a miner. He said that he informed the police about this, but that they did not take him seriously, no signed declaration was made. He also claimed that Trashorras tried to get him to help sell explosives in 2001 while Toro was in prison. Lavandera claims he was threatened by the police against revealing any possible link between Toro and ETA.

Following Lavandera came the testimony of a police officer called Jesús Campillo who interviewed Lavandera in 2003. This witness recorded the conversation with Lavandera, and wrote a report based on it which implicated Trashorras and Toro in the sale of explosives. He said that he was taken off the case although the allegations made by Lavandera were taken up in a police operation codenamed Serpiente.

Another witness who testified on this day about the Asturian connection was Lofti Sbai, a friend of Rafá Zouhier. He declared that he was a witness to an argument between Zouhier and Antonio Toro two days after the bombings. He said that Zouhier told him later that the argument concerned the train bombings and that Toro was frightened because he thought that Trashorras might have sold the explosives used. The witness also stated that Zouhier admitted to him that Jamal Ahmidam had bought the explosives off Trashorras, but that he never imagined that Ahmidam would carry out something llike the train bombings. Sbai said that he urged Zouhier to tell the police what he knew and that Zouhier told him he would inform his Guardia Civil contacts. He said that the following weekend at his birthday celebration he noticed that Zouhier was nervous and scared.

The next witness to declare, and whose declaration continues into day 20, was the former head of the police drug squad in Avilés. Manuel Rodríguez, commonly known as "Manolón" declared on his relationship with Trashorras. He denied that Trashorras had told him about Jamal Ahmidam dealing with drugs in Asturias, and said that he never suspected that Trashorras was trafficking explosives. Trashorras was an informant of Manolón and the witness agreed that his information had helped in the detection of some drug trafficking operations. However, he claimed that Trashorras never talked to him about the Moroccans accused of buying the explosives, saying that the informant only told him about some who were exchanging hashish for cocaine. He declared that after the attacks, on the 12th March, Trashorras told him that it was something done by "the moors", but that Manolón ignored this because Trashorras frequently exaggerated. On the 15th March 2004 when the Islamist involvement was clearer, he said that Trashorras told him about a visit made with Carmen Toro to the house in Morata de Tajuña and that on leaving they were told by someone presumed to be Jamal Ahmidam that "if we don't see each other on earth, we will meet in heaven". The police officer declared that he passed this information to police headquarters on the same day. On the 17th March the police arrived from Madrid to interrogate Trashorras and Manolón said he passed on a copy of Trashorras' diary containing names of possible suspects. The witness claimed he knew nothing of an alleged relationship between Jamal Ahmidam and members of ETA.

The Telephone Cards

The cards used in the telephones that were timers for the bombs were from the company known at the time as Amena. The head of security for Amena at the time of the bombings was José Domingo Río, who declared on actions taken as a result of the police investigation. He declared that on the night of the 12th March he ordered the storage of all call traffic related to the antenna for the zone of Morata de Tajuña, location of the house where the bombs are said to have been prepared. He said he had been alerted on the morning of the 12th following the discovery of the Vallecas bomb and the telephone it contained. He was alsed to help in finding the place from where the card in the phone had been sold, and the shop was identified by 13:30 that day. They were then given a judicial order to investigate the use of the card, and by 21:30 they had established a connection to the antenna at Morata de Tajuña for the activation of the card; although no outgoing or incoming calls were registered for it. The witness stated that afterwards he was informed that the card belonged to a consignment of 30 cards and that 15 of these had been activated, although the records of some of these had been lost because they were older than 72 hours.

Also declaring about the house at Morata de Tajuña was Mustapha el Haddar who worked on the house in the last days of February 2004. He was contracted by Jamal Ahmidam, the contact came via another of the accused, Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil. The witness said he only worked for 3 days at the property, but that during this time he also saw Serhane ben Abdelmajid, Hamid Ahmidam and Otman el Gnaoui.

El Mundo - First witness
El Mundo - Zouhier's ex-girlfriend
El Mundo - Lavandera
El Mundo - Amena security chief
El País - Lavandera
El Mundo - Lofti Sbai
El Mundo - Manolón

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