The Leganés Siege
Day 23 of the trial began with the focus once more on the events in Leganés on April 3rd 2004, when 7 of those accused of having participated in the bombings blew themselves up in an apartment surrounded by the police. First to testify was Pablo Muñoz Lopez, who is the head of national news for the newspaper ABC. He declared concering a fax in arabic found in the offices of the newspaper on Sunday 4th April. They reported the fax to the Interior Ministry and in the meantime were able to decipher enough to see that it contained a claim of responsibility for the train attacks.
Next to testify was a chief inspector of the scientific police, identified by the number 17597. He said that on the 3rd April he arrived in the area of the apartment in Leganés between 4 and 6 in the afternoon. Following the explosion inside the apartment he made a visual inspection together with members of the bomb disposal squad, the TEDAX. In the garden and swimming pool of the apartment block they saw human remains together with other objects including the remains of explosives, weapons, ammunition, identity documents, the remains of a computer and cassette tapes. Evidence was collected in registered evidence bags, and a video and photographic record was made. The witness was questioned on some documentation found with references to ETA, and declared that this documentation came from the adjoining apartment which was owned by a national police officer. The documents were returned to this officer with judicial authorization.
The witness was also involved in investigating the Kangoo van discovered in Alcalá de Henares on the day of the bombings, he declared that it was his decision not to investigate the contents of the van until it arrived at police headquarters in Canillas. The witness only became directly involved following the discovery of detonators under one of the seats. The van also contained clothes, and other personal effects. The witness was also in charge of inspection of the house at Morate de Tajuña where it is believed the bombs were prepared.
The next witness was another police chief inspector, number 19245, who also testified on the investigation following the explosion. he declared that the investigation at the site lasted 3 days in total. First it was the Tedax who took charge of recovering remains of explosives. Other objects recovered later included books, weapons, ammunition, personal documentation, explosives wrappers and detonators. The witness also declared on the photographic and video recording of everything recovered. He declared on human remains recovered following the draining of the swimming pool.
This witness was also present in one of the stations where bombs exploded on the 11th March, the station of El Pozo. He declared that he arrived there at around 9 a.m. and said that the TEDAX were involved in inspecting the area; they exploded a suspect rucksack. Following this came the removal of bodies and personal effects from the train. Later this same witness was present at Canillas when the Kangoo van was brought there. The witness said he took charge of a tape in Arabic found inside the van. He was also involved with subsequent investigation of the unexploded device found on the morning of 12th March in the police station of Puente de Vallecas, once it had been disarmed by the Tedax.
Next came a witness from the Tedax, an inspector identified by police number 66468. He declared that he arrived at Leganés after the explosion had occurred, and that entering the ruined block they found both detonators and remains of explosives. The witness also saw bodies with belts containing explosives. In the following days they continued their investigation at the site of the explosion. Another witness from the Tedax, identified by number 35690, declared on the quantity of explosives wrappers found, and said that these identified the explosive as Goma 2 Eco. He said as much as 9 kilos of explosives were recovered from the wreckage on the night of the explosion. A third Tedax witness, police number 75353, participated in the investigation in Leganés on the days following the explosion, and was in charge of collecting the explosives remains and wrappers found which were all stored in registered evidence bags.
Following these witnesses came testimony on different evidence concerning the bombings; two officers from the Guardia Civil testified on clothing found at a building site by Vicálavaro railway station on the day of the train bombings. One witness declared that they recovered trousers, gloves, a sweatshirt and a scarf. The second witness declared that the discovery of the clothes followed an alert received from one of the workers at the site who had seen a person abandoning the clothes there.
The attention of the court then returned to the Leganés siege with the testimony of 3 national police officers who were present at the time of the explosion. The officer identified by police number 28400 declared that he was present during the intervention by the special forces known as the Geos. He declared on the attempts by the Geos to get those inside the apartment to give themselves up, and that they replied by challenging the Geos to enter the apartment. He also testified that the Geos used gas to try and force those inside to come out. The witness said they had intercepted a call by one of those inside who said that explosives had been placed behind the door of the apartment in case the police tried to enter. He said that approximately half a minute passed between the introduction of tear gas into the apartment and the explosion. The member of the Geos who died in the explosion was very close to the entrance of the apartment.
Another officer, number 28354, who participated in the Geos intervention was given the task of opening the door to the apartment. He said they knew about the possibility of explosives having been placed behind the door but they placed a small charge to blow it open. The tear gas was launched into the appartment using a gas gun. He said that those inside were talking in Arabic and were in a very exciteable state - he heard Arabic chants. The witness was wounded in the explosion. The third witness to testify on this intervention was identified by police number 63853. He testified on hearing voices talking in both Spanish and Arabic inside the apartment, together with chants in Arabic. He heard those inside challenging the Geos to enter, and at the time of the explosion was separated from the officer who died by 3 other companions.
The Widow of "El Chino"
The rest of the session on this day focused on Jamal Ahmidam (El Chino), accused of being the main operational organiser of the bombings and who died in the Leganés explosions. First to testify was the widow of El Chino, she is a protected witness and was identified in court by the coded reference R-22.
She said that she first got to know her future husband in 1992, but that from 2000 until the summer of 2003 she did not see him because he was in prison in Morocco. She said that from October 2003 she started to notice that he had changed, he would not let her dress as she wanted and started to attend regularly at the mosque. He wanted to remove their child from a Christian school. She said that he possessed several cars and also used different mobile telephones. He would travel to Germany and deal in cars which he collected there; he assured his wife that he had left drug dealing.
The witness said that her husband had the house in Morata de Tajuña because he wanted to keep animals. She said she went there in February 2003 but that they were not allowed to enter because El Chino said that there men praying inside. Of the others accused of having participated in the bombings, she said that she knew the Oulad Akcha brothers and El Chino's cousin Hamid Ahmidam.
On the night before the bombings she said that her husband did not come home, on the 11th March she received a call from him from their telephone at home asking where she was. When she arrived home with her son he was no longer there, although he returned the next day saying that he had to go to France. In the following days she could not contact his mobile phone, although he eventually returned to Madrid. On the 19th March they went to the house in Morata, but returned that evening to Madrid and Jamal left that night. She never saw him again, although they had some contacts by telephone. Under further questioning she identified her husband as one of those talking in a video claiming responsibility for the attacks that was recovered from the wreckage of the Leganés apartment. She believed that he had been strongly influenced by Serhane ben Abdelmajid (known as "El Tunecino"), who she said had criticised Jamal for being married to a Christian woman.
The final witness to testify on this day was the mother of El Chino's widow, Rosa Maria de Inés Vicente. Her appearance in court was short, she stated that she did not notice the changes in El Chino's behaviour on his return from Morocco.
READ MORE IN SPANISH:
El Mundo - Leganés
El Mundo - Widow of El Chino
ABC - Leganés
Datadiar - Summary of the day