Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Trial....Day 22, April 9th

Rafa Zouhier and the Explosives

The trial resumed after a prolonged break covering the Easter holiday period. The first witness to testify was a member of the Guardia Civil who was the police contact of Rafa Zouhier. This officer, code named "Victor", testified that he first got to know Zouhier in 2001, via another informer. Zouhier was in prison at the time, and the witness said that he waited until Zouhier was released before using him as an informer. In September 2002 they made contact again, and Zouhier supplied information about drug trafficking and money laundering.

The witness said that Zouhier informed on the attempts by Antonio Toro to deal in explosives early in 2003, and the Guardia Civil asked Zouhier to enter into contact with Toro. He declared that Zouhier obtained a sample of explosive from Toro which was handed over to some colleagues of the witness. "Victor" declared in the court that the explosive sample was examined and found to be dynamite in poor condition. On a later occasion Zouhier informed the witness about a meeting he had arranged with Toro and Emilio Suárez Trashorras, but when the witness arrived at the place of the meeting both Toro and Trashorrras had already left. Zouhier informed him that they could supply as much as 150 kilos of explosives, and the witness prepared a report based on this information. Asked why this report was not mentioned to the investigating magistrate, the witness said that he had forgotten about it when he made his declaration in January 2005.

This witness declared that Zouhier never told him anything about his alleged testing of a detonator in September 2003, or about the meetings held in Madrid where the sale of the explosives used in the train bombings is said to have been discussed. Zouhier did not inform him further about activities related to the sale of the explosives in the period leading up to the train attacks. He said that on the 12th March 2004, the day after the attacks, he was in contact with Zouhier but received no information concerning the bombings. A few days later Zouhier told him that he had recognised Trashorras on television following his arrest, and on the 17th March the witness stated that Zouhier talked to him about Jamal Ahmidam, El Chino. On the 19th March Zouhier was arrested for his alleged participation in the sale of the explosives used for the bombs.

The following witness to testify was Abdelkader Kounjaa, whose brother Abdennabi Kounjaa died in the explosion in Leganés. Kounjaa declared concerning a telephone call he received from his brother just before the Leganés explosion. He said that his brother told him in this conversation that they were surrounded by the police and that he was going to die. He said that his brother was a friend of the Oulad Akcha brothers and of Rifaat Anouar.

Kounjaa was followed to the stand by Emilio Gil Criado, who works as caretaker in a building in the Avenida Bruselas in Madrid. He testified on the presence in this street of a Skoda car alleged to have been used by the bombers. He said the car was there for several weeks but that when he informed the police they told him that unless it had been stolen there was nothing they could do. Later he was visited by someone from the Hertz car hire company who told him that the car had been stolen. He could not say on which day the car disappeared.

El Chino

Next to declare was the brother of El Chino and cousin of Hamid Ahmidam, Mustafá Ahmidam. He acknowledged in court that his brother told him of his involvement in the attacks before the suicide in Leganés. Ahmidam said that he had been scared to tell the police this earlier, but that he saw his brother twice between the 11th March 2004 and the day he died; April 3rd. He said that when he questioned his brother about the police looking for him in connection with the bombings, El Chino replied that he was involved.

Mustafá Ahmidam said his brother had become more religious following a spell in prison in Morocco in 2003, and that he talked of going to Iraq. On the day his brother revealed his involvement in the bombings, he said that Rachid Oulad Akcha also appeared, and on leaving said "pray that they do not catch us alive". He testified that on a previous occasion El Chino had reprimanded the youngest brother, Youssef, by making a reference to the "brothers" who were dying in Iraq.

Youssef Ahmidam also declared on this day. This witness declared that he saw El Chino 2 days after the bombings in the bar run by Mustafá. He had not seen Jamal in the previous 2 months. He said that Jamal was very different when he returned from Morocco and that he wanted the family to return to this country. He said that he found out about his brother's involvement in the attacks via the media.

Another witness declaring about El Chino was identified only by the reference S20-04-T-74. This witness identified Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil as being a friend of El Chino. He also identified El Chino as being one of the people in the video claiming the attacks. Another protected witness, identified only as S20-04-H-93, also spoke of his relationship with El Chino. He said he had known him since 1997, and that he also knew El Akil. This witness said that El Chino began to change around 1999-2000 and became more radical. He said that later El Chino expressed a wish to go to Chechenia and that he made donations to Mosques.

The testimony by the Guardia Civil witness is a bit depressing, if the police had been a bit more alert on acting on the information they were given then the sale of the explosives used in the bombs would have been much harder. Which is not to say the bombings would not have happened - but in the end it was all very easy for those who committed them to get hold of significant quantities of dynamite.

El Mundo - Victor
El Mundo - The Ahmidam Brothers
ABC - The Ahmidam Brothers
Datadiar - Summary of the day

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