Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Trial....Day 28, April 23rd

Members of ETA Declare

Gorka Vidal Álvaro was arrested following the interception of a van carrying explosives in February 2004. The witness is accused of being a member of ETA, when questioned in court he refused to give details of the operation in which he was arrested. The presiding judge warned him that he was obliged to answer questions. The witness denied having anything to do with Jamal Ahmidam or with the Madrid bombings. When reprimanded by the judge for his attitude in response to the questions, the witness replied that he should not even be present in the court.

The next witness, Irkus Badillo Borde was arrested together with Gorka Vidal. He said he did not know either the origin or destination of the van carrying the explosives. He declared that he does not know Jamal Ahmidam or any other Islamist activist. He had nothing to do with the Madrid bombings.

Henri Parot is a convicted member of ETA and has been in prison since 1990. He has been called as a witness because his name was said to have been found in possession of an Islamist prisoner. He also denied any connection with Islamist terrorists.

The Police and Jamal Ahmidam

The witness from the Guardia Civil, police number E-68411-L, stopped a Toyota Corolla car for a speeding offence. The driver identified himself as Youssef ben Sellam and showed a Belgian passport. The identification is one used by Jamal Ahmidam, accused of being the operational organiser of the train bombings. The vehicle was not searched, and the witness issued the driver with the speeding fine.

The Head of the Forensic Police

Carlos Corrales was in charge of the forensic police at the time of the bombings. He said that as soon as he heard about the bombings he gave orders for a team to attend the sites of the explosions. He declared that collection of evidence at the sites was done together with the bomb disposal squad, known as the Tedax. The latter were responsible for collecting samples of explosives, as well as informing on the components found in these simples. On the Renault van discovered in Alcalá de Henares it was this witness who gave the order to take it to the headquarters at Canillas. He was at the emergency centre in the IFEMA exhibition complex when he was informed about the discovery of detonators in this van. The witness was also present in Leganés on the 3rd April 2004, when 7 of the group accused of the bombings blew themselves up. The witness declared that the team working with the bodies of the victims was told to be on the lookout for indications of possible suicide bombers amongst the dead. He said that this was the first time such an instruction had been given for a terrorist attack in Spain.

The Leganés Explosion

The national police witness identified by police number 38736 testified on his presence at the siege of the apartment in Leganés. On arrival at the street where the apartment was located he entered the patio of the block. He declared that he heard shots from a window on two occasions. When the explosion occurred he was behind a column, although the blast damaged his hearing and he took no further part in events at the site.

Cartagena and Leganés

The witness from the national police, with number 17814, testified on the process of taking witness declarations that he was involved with following the bombings. This witness was also the police controller of the informer Cartagena, who has already testified as a witness in the trial. He testified that he never met Cartagena alone, and that the informer told them about Islamist activities, but never about concrete plans for attacks. All meetings with Cartagena followed telephone calls from the informer; one such meeting was arranged on the 2nd April 2004 following the abortive attempt to bomb the high speed railway line linking Madrid and Sevilla. The meeting was arranged for the 3rd April and they met in the Juan Carlos 1 park in Madrid. He denied any suggestion that the reason for the meeting was the events that took place the same day in Leganés. The witness no longer has any responsibility for dealing with Cartagena.

On the question of Leganés, the witness testified that the location of the apartment was made as a result of the tracking of telephone calls made by suspects. From these calls they found the number of an estate agent which had rented the apartment in the street of Carmen Martin Gaite where the siege took place. They got this information in the early afternoon of the 3rd April.

The national police witness 75036 testified on events in the investigation following the train attacks. The witness participated in an operation in Granada where they had to search a house. He said they found the house to be almost empty with few signs of anyone living there. They took photographic and video evidence of the house, and looked for fingerprints. This witness was also involved in the inspection of the Renault Kangoo van and again a photographic and video record was taken of the vehicle. The witness was present when the van was opened for inspection and said that the rear part of the van contained various objects.

The Asturian Connection

Pablo Álvarez Moya is a witness who admitted knowing both Emilio Suárez Trashorras, and the latter’s former wife Carmen Toro. He declared that he travelled to Madrid in October 2003 with Toro and Trashorras. On the way to Madrid, in Majadahonda, they stopped to meet Rafa Zouhier. The witness did not know what Trashorras and Zouhier talked about at this meeting. In Madrid they went to eat at a branch of McDonalds in the district of Carabanchel in the company of Zouhier and 5 other North Africans, although the witness was not seated at the same table and did not hear what was being discussed. On the way back to Asturias there was no discussion of anything that had happened in Madrid, and the witness never saw Zouhier again.

Another witness, Carlos Alberto Tejeda, knew José Ignacio Fernández; also known as “Nayo”. He said he visited Nayo in prison because he might have information useful for some clients of his (the witness is a lawyer). He declared that Nayo gave him information on an operation involving the trafficking of arms and explosives to ETA. The witness said he passed this information to the prosecution service in Asturias.

The police witness Francisco Javier Gascón Cornejo dealt with a person called Lavandera who arrived at the police station one Sunday saying that he wanted to give some information to the police. According to the witness, Lavandera mentioned that he had been offered the chance to participate in crimes concerning the trafficking of drugs and explosives and that those involved had mentioned a possible relationship to ETA.

ETA Members in Madrid?

The witness Carolina Folgueira Flores went to a Madrid underground station on the afternoon of the day after the bombings; on her way to the demonstration of protest. She declared that she saw some people on the platform that looked familiar and that one of them smiled at her. Later from police photographs she identified these people as suspected members of ETA.

Falsely Accused

Juan Manuel Olbiols Touceda phoned Telemadrid on the 13th March to ask if they were going to report on the demonstration taking place outside the headquarters of the Partido Popular. He was detained by the police the next day and told that he was accused of involvement in the bombings. He was interrogated, but after he made his declaration he was released. The police told him that the number of his mobile telephone coincided with that used to make a claim of responsibility for the bombings.

Footnote: The appearance of members of ETA in the trial was one of the things that had the conspiracy theorists highly excited when it was first announced. In the end they came, they denied any knowledge of the bombings or contact with those responsible, and they went. It took about 20 minutes of the court's time to deal with these witnesses. There is of course no evidence linking any of them to the bombings; so it could hardly be otherwise. Even those lawyers whose only function in the trial appears to be the introduction of the conspiracy theories by any means were left without much to say, so much attention for nothing. the absurdity of the whole issue becomes very clear if you read the transcript of the questions provided by ABC below. Meanwhile the rest of the day provided little of substance, although we got another example of Jamal Ahmidam getting past police control with his fake identification and a stolen car. On Leganés, the issue of how the police found the apartment where the explosion occurred is becoming a bit clearer. There is also first hand testimony that rebuts the absurd claim that the Kangoo van was stuffed with incriminating evidence at some point on its journey between Alcalá de Henares and police headquarters. Even if you were to accept any of the conspiracy theory claims, such an action just wouldn't make any sense; it suggests that those behind the supposed great conspiracy were just improvising as they went along.

El Mundo - ETA witnesses
ABC - ETA witnesses
El Mundo - Jamal Ahmidam
Datadiar - Daily Summary

No comments: