Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Trial....Day 29, April 24th

The Explosion in Leganés

This day saw testimony from several police officers concerning the events in Leganés on April 3rd 2004. I have not included all witnesses here as much of the evidence is repetitive, a fuller account can be found in the Datadiar summary sourced at the end of this post.

An inspector in the bomb disposal squad (Tedax), identified by police number 28247, testified about his work at the site of the explosion in Leganés on April 3rd 2004. He said that he was not officially on service this day, but voluntarily decided to go to the scene. He arrived after the explosion and helped in the collection of evidence samples both outside and inside the building. He testified that there were human remains in the swimming pool of the block. Another Tedax witness, with police number 36775, arrived at the scene at about 18:00 when the area was already cordoned off. After the explosion he assisted with the collection of evidence including explosives and clothing. A third witness from the Tedax, number 36906, also participated in the collection of evidence following the blast. This witness also participated in the deactivation of the unexploded bomb found in the police station of Puente de Vallecas on the morning of the 12th March 2004. The Tedax witness with police number 60377 declared on finding a detonator on one of the bodies of those who died in the explosion, as well as explosive traces.

The Tedax witness number 64338 was present at the scene in Leganés from 7 p.m. This witness saw the explosion, he testified that first came a small explosion as the special forces (Geos) blew open the door of the apartment. This was followed a minute later by the main explosion. The witness was amongst those who went to the assistance of an injured member of the Geos. He was involved later in the recovery of some explosive in the grounds of the block where the explosion occurred. Later that night, after the swimming pool had been emptied he inspected a rucksack on orders of the judge at the scene. Inside the bag was a gun. Further inspection of mattresses in the swimming pool revealed the presence of a detonator attached to a piece of flesh. Nearby to a body they found a bag containing explosives. Another Tedax witness, number 76109, also participated in the collection of evidence following the explosion. He said that after the emptying of the swimming pool they found 2 lumps of explosive, a mattress, 2 bodies and 2 copper detonators. A machine gun was also found and photographed by the witness.

The Alleged Source for the Connection to ETA

Police witness 15761 (Enrique García Castaño) was in charge of the operational support unit on the 11th March 2004. On the 12th March he was given a mobile telephone card for investigation to find out the telephone number, the name in which the number is registered, and the place where the card was sold. It was a card from the operator then known as Amena. Within a couple of hours they obtained the information on the number and the place where it had been sold; information which was passed on to those handling the investigation. He said that it was members of his unit who first checked the shop where the card was sold, Sindhu Enterprise; pretending to be customers to verify that the shop sold cards and the way they went about it. It was on the 13th March that they discovered that the card had been sold to Jamal Zougam.

The witness declared about Leganés saying that on the morning of the 3rd April they had identified the estate agent who rented the apartment as a result of a telephone call that had been made by Said Berraj. The unit controlled by this witness was also involved in surveillance of Hassan el Haski in Lanzarote, their role was simply to inform on the activities of the suspect.

The witness declared that he was a friend of Agustín Díaz de Mera. He said that Díaz de Mera called him after declaring in the trial on March 28th, telling him that he was under political pressure. Díaz de Mera asked for his help and the witness told him that he was prepared for his name to be mentioned but not as a source for suggesting that ETA had connections to the bombings. He said that he told Díaz de Mera that a report had been prepared on possible links between ETA and Islamists, but that he was wrong to think that this report established any such relationship. The witness stated that the next day the 2 men had a similar conversation, and that Díaz de Mera used their friendship to try and get him to support the allegations he had made. He declared that he spoke to Díaz de Mera both before and after the radio appearance when the original allegation was made and told him that no link existed connecting ETA to the bombings.

The Skoda Car

Francisco García Martínez is an employee of the Hertz car rental company, and testified on the Skoda car belonging to this company that was believed to have been used to transport some of the bombs placed on the trains. He was the employee responsible for recovering this stolen car once its ownership had been established. He said he checked the exterior of the car, but not the interior.

Alcalá On the Morning of the Bombings

At the time of the bombings, Luís del Moral was president of the community of owners for the block where he lives in Alcalá de Henares. It was the caretaker of this block who noticed some men leaving a van parked near the building and heading towards the railway station on the morning of the train attacks. The caretaker told him what he had seen at about 10:30 a.m., after the bombings. He then informed the police who told him they would send someone to take a statement; which they did shortly afterwards.

The House Where the Bombs Were Prepared?

Mohamed Nidal Acaid is the husband of the owner of the house in Morata de Tajuña where it is alleged the bombs were prepared. He declared that the house was rented twice, the second time to Jamal Ahmidam. The witness said that he was in prison at the time and was unaware of the rental arrangement. The witness admitted to knowing Moutaz and Mouhannad Almallah Dabas.

Footnote: The main interest of the day has been the testimony of the senior police officer named by Agustín Díaz de Mera in his attempts to escape being formally charged with contempt of court. The result, from someone who declares himself to be a long standing friend of Díaz de Mera, has been a complete repudiation of the allegations made about a connection to ETA; which was never backed up by any concrete evidence anyway. It's not the end of this story, which has become another of the sideshows running together with the main trial. Most of the rest of the day has been taken up with testimony about Leganés, and what the police found after the explosion. Under normal circumstances it would be seen just as routine confirmation of the facts. However, the conspiracy theorists would dearly love to have an angle to attack the validity of the account of what happened in Leganés; apart from outlandish suggestions on the planting of dead bodies and claims that it was all too "theatrical", they have not so far been able to make headway on this issue. Yet if Leganés stands, then so does much of the rest of the prosecution case.

La Vanguardia - García Castaño
El Mundo - Leganés
Datadiar - Daily summary

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