Friday, March 02, 2007

The Trial....Day 7, February 27th

The seventh day of the trial has continued with declarations by the accused, but has taken us closer to the heart of the case by focusing on the testimony of those accused of involvement in supplying the explosives used in the bombs.

First, however, came the unfinished business from the previous day; the continuing declaration of Mahmoud Slimane. Under questioning from his own lawyer, Slimane burst into tears when asked what he thought about the train bombings. “You probably don’t believe me, but when I see each woman crying I see my own mother crying”, he stated. Additionally he said that the bombings had affected all Muslims, and that there are no words to explain such actions.

Slimane was followed to the stand by Nasredine Bousbaa, who is accused of having received numerous telephone calls from members of the group who carried out the bombings, and of having prepared false documentation for some of them. In his brief declaration he was unable to provide an explanation for substantial amount of money he had saved, despite being unemployed. Nor did he offer any explanation for the abrupt departure from Spain of his wife and daughter.

Next to declare, and the cause of some expectation, was Rafá Zouhier, accused of having made the introductions that led to the sale of the stolen explosives used in the bombs. Zouhier declared himself to be “super innocent”, and claimed that he repeatedly advised the Guardia civil that Emilio Suárez Trashorras was attempting to sell explosives in Madrid. He insisted that he always informed on criminal activities that he knew about. Nevertheless, he admitted to not informing on the meeting in Madrid to negotiate the sale of the explosives, claiming that the issue of explosives was not discussed.

The prosecution accused Zouhier of having made repeated changes in his declarations. He said that in June or July 2003 he was given a sample of explosive by the Asturians involved in the theft, and that initially he thought they were from ETA. Zouhier claims he informed the police about this. Concerning the meeting in Madrid, he said that those present were Rachid Aglif, Jamal Ahmidam (El Chino), Emilio Suárez Trashorras, Carmen Toro and someone else from Asturias called Moya. In other declarations he has stated that Antonio Toro was there instead of his sister Carmen, he attributed these changes in his declarations to problems of memory.

Asked if he possessed El Chino’s telephone number, he said that he did not. Concerning a meeting he had with a police contact on the 17th March 2004, he said that a friend had told him the day before of rumours that El Chino had been involved in the attacks, and that this was why he got in contact with the police. Zouhier said that the police asked him to try and get El Chino’s telephone number, although the prosecution alleges that there are calls registered between Zouhier and El Chino in November and December of 2003. Zouhier continued to insist that the number registered was not his. He stated that he took no sides politically on the issue of the bombings, and that he had never received any money from media groups in return for information. After five hours of questioning he finished by stating that he had “decided to tell the truth to the Spanish”, despite the difficult situation it placed him in.

Trashorras testifies.

Following Zouhier came Emilio Suárez Trashorras, the defendant with possibly the largest list of charges against him and accused of being the provider of the explosives used in the bombs. Under questioning, Trashorras denied either offering or trafficking with explosives; either with ETA or with the Islamists accused of the Madrid bombings. In reply to questions from the prosecution, he claimed that he had been under police surveillance from 2001 to 2004 and that they were never caught dealing with explosives. He also denied having been inside the Conchita mine, from where the explosives are said to have come, since 2002. Trashorras said he never had access to dynamite when he worked at the mine, and that the only evidence against him is the declaration of Gabriel Montoya, a minor who has already been convicted of having transported part of the explosive used in the train bombings.

According to Trashorras, the journeys which he and other members of the Asturias group made to Madrid were all connected to hashish deals. He said that the contacts with El Chino concerned a batch of drugs they had previously bought from El Chino and which were in bad condition. He rejected the accusation that had been made by Rafá Zouhier that he had offered explosives in return for drugs and claimed that it was Zouhier who had raised the subject of explosives with him. Also, he denied ever having given Zouhier a sample of the explosive. He stated that he travelled frequently to Madrid and that in the meeting with El Chino in the McDonalds restaurant in Madrid they discussed hashish deals.

Based on a comment made by El Chino to Trashorras about some friends of his being detained, Trashorras was questioned about whether this might have referred to ETA members who were arrested transporting a bomb to Madrid 11 days before the train bombings. In court, Trashorras said that he communicated this possibility to the police but that they rejected the idea of ETA working together with drug dealers. He stated that he felt after this meeting that possibly he had misinterpreted the words of El Chino.

El Mundo - Slimane
El Mundo - Bousbaa
El Mundo - Zouhier
El Mundo - Trashorras

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