Monday, May 21, 2007

The Trial....Day 38, May 17th

Establishing the Number of Victims

The day began with the appearance of a forensic expert, José Luis Miguel Pedrero. This witness testified that the officially registered number of wounded as a result of the train bombings is 1841, 17 more than the figure mentioned in the indictment.

The witness Elisabeth Helen Shirley Jeanneret declared on the situation of a Nigerian victim of the bombings called Kenneth. The witness works for an NGO and stated that Kenneth, who was present illegally in Spain, was caught in the explosion at the station of El Pozo. Following the explosion, Kenneth stayed at El Pozo attempting to help other victims of the explosion but left when the police arrived because of his illegal situation in the country. The witness said that he was scared after the explosion and that she had to convince him to go to a doctor. Because of this he is not officially registered as a victim of the bombings, the witness said that he remains in Spain.

The Neighbour in Leganés

Alberto Maeso lived in the apartment building in Leganés where 7 of the alleged perpetrators of the bombings blew themselves up on April 3rd 2004. He said that after 17:30 they heard sounds like firecrackers, and that a neighbour confirmed that shots had been fired. They could see the street was full of police, and could hear chanting. At 19:00 the police evacuated the building, they were not able to return to see the consequences of the explosion until 2 a.m. The witness described the continuing psychological effects of what had happened. For 18 months afterwards they had not been able to live their normal life. The building has been reconstructed but the witness said they continued to suffer problems connected to this reconstruction.

Relatives or Associates of the Accused

The witness Yahya Mawed Mohammad Rajed appeared via a videoconference connection with Spoleto in Italy. This is the person who is alleged to have been recruited to the Islamist cause by Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed (El Egipcio) in Milan. Having set up the videoconference the results were disappointing, the witness declined to testify on the grounds that any declartation could be damaging to him. The witness is not covered by the jurisdiction of the Spanish courts but the chief judge warned that action could be attempted at international level over his refusal to declare. In the end the declaration to the police taken from this witness in Italy was read to the court. In this declaration the witness acknowledged knowing El Egipcio, but denied that they had discussed issues related to jihad or that he had been shown radical videos by the other man. He also denies ever having heard El Egipcio talk about the Madrid bombings.

Rachid Bendouda testified on those of the accused that he knew. He declared on having seen Jamal Zougam together in a bar with Abu Dahdah, Serhane ben Abdelmajid and Said Chedadi. The witness said they discussed business matters. He also said he had seen Allekema Lamari with Mohamed Afalah in the area of Lavapíes. On Jamal Ahmidam, he said he had known him many years ago when he dedicated himself to drug trafficking. He also admitted knowing Mouhannad Almallah Dabas and Said Berraj. He claimed that Rachid Aglif was not a friend of Jamal Ahmidam, although this is not what he had declared to the police.

Abdesalam Bouchar is the father of the accused, Abdelmajid Bouchar, and is not obliged to declare against his son. He said that his son used to live and work together with him, but that later he dedicated himself to running, and that he threw him out of their home at the beginning of 2004 because his son did not want to work. From April 2004, he said that he did not see his son until after his arrest. He claimed that his son was not radical in his religious beliefs.

The Identification of the Victims and Those Killed in Leganés

The joint appearance of the expert forensic witnesses Carmen Baladía Olmedo, Juan Miguel Monje Pérez, Miguel Angel Castillo and Francisco Pera Bajo concerned the identification of the victims of the bombings. Carmen Baladía was involved in setting up the emergency morgue at the IFEMA exhibition centre on the day of the bombings. She declared that the bodies were grouped according to the explosion site from which they came, and that they set up an area for autopsies. By the 17th March there were 187 fatal victims of the bombings, 3 of which had still not been positively identified. In the end they identified a total of 191 victims.

Juan Miguel Monje was present at Atocha station on the morning of March 11th, but said that the activities of the bomb disposal squad (Tedax) meant they could do nothing there. The witness said that the injuries observed on the victims were those likely to have been caused by an explosion, and that death would have been instantaneous for many of the victims. The witness also worked at the emergency morgue at IFEMA. The doctors Castillo and Pera testified on the autopsy of the policeman killed at Leganés

Next the witnesses Castillo and Pera remained together with doctors Prieto Carretero and Conejero Estévez. Together they declared on the forensic analysis of the bodies recovered from the Leganés explosion. They said this analysis was equivalent to an autopsy process because the aim was to identify the bodies and establish the cause of death. They declared that the number of identified victims was 7. The witnesses declared that they could be sure that the victims were alive at the time of the explosion from study of the burns and wounds on the bodies.

Finally the expert medical witnesses José Luis Miguel Pedrero, Sara Bosch Carretero and Plaoma Fuentes González declared on the after effects of the bombings for surviving victims.

Footnote: The evidence against El Egipcio remains confined to that of the tape recordings made by the Italian police given the refusal of one of his main contacts in Italy to declare. Apart from this, the most significant evidence of the day is perhaps that concerning Leganés. It has always been difficult for conspiracy theorists to suggest that Leganés was not a suicide, but the problem they have is that none of their theories survive if Leganés is not discredited. Hence their often bizarre attempts to suggest theories on how the police could have staged this event. These theories include suggestions that the bodies found following the explosion were already dead when it occurred. The evidence presented by the forensic experts does little to help this theory, as they demonstrated that there are ways of knowing whether someone was dead or alive at the time of the explosion.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
ABC - Forensic witnesses
El País - Hunger strike and El Egipcio

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