The day began with a novel appearance; Oulad Chabarou is a witness who is currently imprisoned in Belgium. His participation in the Madrid bombings trial was implemented via a video conference connection to Brussels. The witness made his declarations in Arabic. This witness was questioned about links to Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed (known as “El Egipcio”). The witness said that he got to know El Egipcio in 2001 in a mosque in Madrid. He said their relationship was a commercial one. In 2003 when the witness was in Paris, he was given the telephone number of El Egipcio. Later when he returned to Belgium the two men spoke by telephone about 3 times. Chabarou said he did not know when El Egipcio went to Italy, only that the calls he received after March 2003 were from this country. The witness stated that El Egipcio called him in April 2004 and the other man asked him if he knew Serhane ben Abdelmajid and Fouad el Morabit. Chabarou replied that he knew only El Morabit. El Egipcio told him about the deaths of the men in Madrid, the witness said in court that he though the deaths had occurred in an accident.. El Egipcio told him that he had much to tell, but that it was best not to talk by telephone. After this conversation the witness was unable to get in touch again with El Egipcio. He said that he did not know why El Egipcio left Spain.
The witness said that El Morabit assisted him when he had economic problems in 2001 and that they both exchanged telephone numbers. El Morabit had given him some clothes, after this they had no further contact. Chabarou admitted that Said Berraj stayed at his house in Belgium for 3 days in 2004. When the witness was asked about the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, he said that he was unaware of the existence of this group when detained in June 2004, and he denied knowing those alleged to be involved in this group.
The Islamist Accused of Contacts With ETA
Abdelkrim Bensmail was questioned about his relationship to members of ETA, and denied knowing any of those named; saying that notes found with their names in the prison of Villabona did not belong to him. The witness is currently in prison because of his connections to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group. He also denied knowing the formula for an explosive mixture that is said to have also been found in his possession. He did admit to knowing one of the Leganés suicides, Allekema Lamari, and that Lamari had sent him money.
Friends or Workmates of the Accused
Hatem Ghanouid Jebnoun told the court that he got to know Serhane ben Abdelmajid (“El Tunecino”) immediately after arriving in Spain. This witness is also from Tunisia, and the two were presented to each other by a student friend. The witness said that El Tunecino lent him some money, but that later they fell out with each other and El Tunecino demanded the return of the loan. The last time he saw him at the beginning of March 2004, El Tunecino said he was going to Tunis and asked him for forgiveness.
Marco Luis Valbuena González worked in 2003 together with Rachid Oulad Akcha, one of those killed in Leganés. The witness said that at the end of February 2004 Akcha shaved off his beard, the witness was not aware of whether he had strong religious convictions but declared that another workmate had told him that Akcha was an extremist. He stated that Akcha left his job around the 4th March 2004.
The witness identified only by the number 459 is a senior manager for safety and security issues in the Spanish railway company, Renfe. The witness declared that Renfe had a policy of progressively improving the security of their installations. In Atocha and Chamartin stations in Madrid they had installed security cameras that recorded what was filmed, the cameras in other stations did not record. At the time of the bombings, the cameras in the station at Alcalá de Henares, where the bombers are suspected to have boarded the trains, were not able to record; they were there principally to assist the circulation of trains. After the bombings, Renfe increased the resources they dedicated to anti-terrorism measures. The line where the bombings happened is now patrolled by special security teams.
The Telephones Used in the Bombs
In 2004 Barbara Bonilla Hernández worked for Interdist Móviles, selling mobile telephones and preparing the associated contracts. She also activated phone cards before the sale if asked to do so by her managers. She said she knew nothing about any relationship between her company and Sindhu Enterprise, or any of the other companies linked to the sale of the telephones used in the bombs. She declared that they recorded identification of the telephones they sold.
The trial is interrupted by the May Day holiday in Madrid and resumes on Thursday May 3rd.
Footnote: At last on this day we got some evidence relating to those are accused of being the "intellectual authors" of the bombings; those who were behind the attacks without directly participating in their execution. So far they have barely been mentioned in the trial since their inital declarations. The evidence on this day is hardly damning, although it does relate El Egipcio to Islamist circles. Meanwhile the ETA-Islamist connection was on show again with the appearance of Bensmail, we are still left with nothing more than hints and innuendo about such a connection. That Islamist and ETA prisoners have coincided in the same prisons in Spain is very likely, that they may have talked to each other is quite possible; that they have ever collaborated together in any terrorist actions is completely unsupported by any facts and considered to be an extremely unlikely possibility by experts in the field.
READ MORE IN SPANISH:
El Mundo - Chabarou
ABC - Chabarou and Bensmail
Datadiar - Daily summary