Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Trial....Day 55, June 28th

Ivan Reis Palicio

The final declarations by the defence lawyers continued in this session with that on behalf of Ivan Reis Palicio. His lawyer pointed out that some of the parties to the accusation have already withdrawn their accusation against his client. He recognised that Palicio had made a journey to Madrid in January 2004 carrying a bag on behalf of Emilio Suárez Trashorras. He made this journey because of a debt he had with Trashorras. The bag contained a box sealed with a padlock and his client handed it over on arrival in Madrid to Jamal Ahmidam. He said that there was no proof that his client had been carrying explosives in this bag. The lawyer also referred to witness testimony saying that explosives were removed from the Mina Conchita on the 23rd January, and his client had made the journey to Madrid on the 9th. Palicio believed he was transporting hashish and there are no grounds to accuse him of having trafficked with explosives.

The lawyer said that his client maintained contacts with Trashorras and Antonio Toro because he was a hashish user. His client did not form part of any organised group and was threatened by Trashorras and Toro to try and make him undertake the journey to Madrid.

Nasreddine Bousbaa

The lawyer defending Nasreddine Bousbaa said that his client had not been mentioned by any of the parties to the accusation during the trial. In his voluntary declaration to the police, Bousbaa acknowledged knowing Jamal Ahmidam, but not Rifaat Anouar or Mohamed Oulad Akcha. Following this declaration he was detained. He denied that his client had done anything to alter 3 passports that were given to him by Jamal Ahmidam, he said his client simply kept them whilst awaiting a call from Ahmidam to return them. Bousbaa has recognised being involved on other occasions in the falsification of documentation, but this was in 1999. Nothing has been found in possession of his client to indicate that he is a radical Islamist and he did not share Jamal Ahmidam’s ideology.

Documents found in the wreckage of the Leganés apartment bear no identifying marks of Bousbaa, neither fingerprints nor DNA. The lawyer said that Jamal Ahmidam possessed many false documents and had no need of Bousbaa. His client remained in Madrid after the bombings because he had nothing to fear, since 2001 he had led a normal life with his wife and 2 children. No evidence has been produced to show his membership of the group involved in the bombings and he called for Bousbaa to be found not guilty.

Hassan El Haski

The lawyer for Hassan el Haski opened his remarks by expressing respect for the victims of the bombings. He went on to say that the presumption of innocence meant that there were two requirements for finding someone guilty. Firstly, the level of proof should be sufficient that it does not depend on assumptions but on concrete facts, and that it should have been obtained by legal means. The silence of the accused cannot be interpreted as being a sign of guilt. Secondly, the result of assessment of the evidence cannot be arbitrary. The lawyer said that there was no significant evidence against his client, he did not know any of the accused and has never been in Madrid. Under such circumstances, it is difficult for him to be considered an intellectual author of the bombings.

On the evidence of the witness Attila Turk, the lawyer said that declarations were taken from this person by the French police without him having the right to see a lawyer. It might even be possible to say that he had been tortured, under such circumstances it is understandable that he might lie to relieve the pressure he was under. Other witness testimony only shows that El Haski spent time living with the witnesses. Another declaration on the structure of the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group made no reference at all to El Haski. The witness Bachir Ghoumid made clear that El Haski was not part of this organisation. On these grounds he said that his client should be freed.

Youssef Belhadj

The remaining part of the session on this day was taken up by the defence for Youssef Belhadj, also accused of being an intellectual author of the bombings. He said that the trial had not been a rigorous process, 120 people had been detained yet only 29 were accused in the end. If those who died in Leganés, together with those who had fled or who had still not been identified, were present in the trial there would be 47 accused and there would have been no need to bring charges against his client, Hassan el Haski or Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed.

The lawyer complained of the absence of an interpreter when his client only speaks Arabic or French, saying that this violated the rights of his client. Belhadj passed 1 year and 8 months knowing he was implicated in the case of the bombings, but without being able to know why. The indictment consisted of 1500 pages in Spanish, and it was impossible for Belhadj to understand it. This lawyer also complained of the secrecy surrounding the preparation of the case, saying that the lifting of this measure came too late to permit his client to properly prepare his defence.

He said that the decision of his client to participate in a brief hunger strike during the trial had been used against him, but that such an action cannot be interpreted in this way. On journeys made by Belhadj, he said that these were to do with family matters or work. On the accusation that his client came to Madrid to help prepare the attacks, the lawyer said that he was there to try and sort out papers for a residence permit. He did not flee Madrid in a hurry just before the attacks, he left by plane because it is not much more expensive than other forms of transport. The lawyer said that a call alleged to have been made to Belhadj by Mohamed Afalah was actually made to the number of Abdelmajid Bouchar.

On an incriminatory declaration made by Mohamed Moussaten, the lawyer said that this declaration was not sufficient on its own to accuse his client. Moussaten gave way under intense pressure from the police after 5 days of interrogation together with his family. He said that Belhadj had spoken of belonging to Al Qaeda. However, Moussaten had since retracted this declaration. The lawyer questioned the validity of evidence provided by the Belgian police. Evidence found in a property where his client stayed has not been proven to belong to Belhadj. Claims that documents or telephone cards belonged to Belhadj have not been substantiated. He ended by asking for Belhadj to be absolved on all charges.

Footnote: This session saw declarations in defence of 2 of those accused of being the intellectual authors of the bombings, Hassan el Haski and Youssef Belhadj. It will be interesting to see the verdict on El Haski because he has not featured strongly during the trial. The evidence against Belhadj appears stronger because of his connections both to Islamist militants and to others of the accused. It’s a tougher case to establish than against material authors as they are not accused of having actually participated in the execution of the attacks, and therefore there is no witness or DNA evidence to directly link them to the bombings.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
El Mundo - El abogado de Belhadj lo presenta como chivo expiatorio de la investigación
ABC - Usan las «dudas» de un jefe policial para pedir la absolución de El Haski
ABC - «Iván Reis no transportó ni un gramo de la Goma 2 hallada en Leganés»

The Trial....Day 54, June 27th

Otman El Gnaoui

With closing statements form defence lawyers still continuing, this session was opened by the lawyer representing Otman el Gnaoui. This lawyer began by saying that neither the prosecution nor the other parties to the accusation had made a real evaluation of the evidence against his client, despite him being accused of being one of the material authors of the bombings. He supported the points made by other defence lawyers concerning the secrecy of the investigation and the impact this had on the preparation of the defence.

He claimed that several telephone calls said to have been made by his client were in fact made by Jamal Ahmidam. Additionally, he complained about the presence of only one expert in the elaboration of reports, saying that 2 specialists were required as a means of guaranteeing the integrity of the report. El Gnaoui recognised that he had been present in the house at Morata de Tajuña where the bombs are said to have been prepared. He was there working on the house as a result of his contacts with a brother of Jamal Ahmidam. He said that his client did not associate with the others at the property and was only there for one month. The telephone conversations he had with Ahmidam were all connected with the purchase of materials for work at the house. El Gnaoui did not know Ahmidam before going to work at the house.

On the clothes discovered abandoned on the day of the bombings near Vicálvaro railway station, he said that the DNA traces on these belonged to several people, not just to his client. Regarding documentation of his that went missing, El Gnaoui has already declared that this loss occurred in a discotheque. His client had no way of knowing that any of his actions might be involved with the commission of an offence. He finished by saying that his client was not an Islamist and did not hate Spain; he was simply in the wrong place accompanied by the wrong people. The lawyer called for him to be found not guilty.

Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil

The lawyer for Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil opened his statement by saying that the judicial authorisation for entry and search of his client’s home was invalid. During this search he claimed that no evidence was found incriminating his client. He was interrogated by the police without a lawyer present.

On the accusation that El Akil took over Jamal Ahmidam's drug trafficking activities whilst Ahmidam was in Morocco, he claimed that even if this were true it demonstrates nothing about his participation in the train bombings. Nor does the involvement of his client in the work carried out at the house in Morata de Tajuña imply his involvement in the bombings. Being a friend of a terrorist does not convert someone into a terrorist too. Concerning the charge that El Akil took care of repairing Ahmidam's cars, the lawyer said that this happened only once. He said that El Akil is not a religious person and is not known in the mosque. Being charged with membership of a terrorist organisation means acceptance and knowledge of the objectives of that organisation by the person accused. His client knew nothing of the plans of Jamal Ahmidam.

Mohamed Bouharrat

The lawyer for Mohamed Bouharrat began by saying she would not enter into detail on the faults of the process, because other defence lawyers had already done so. She said that only the prosecution and one of the parties to the accusation had made any reference to her client. She complained of attempts in the trial to criminalise Islam and to pass judgements on the behaviour of its followers.

On the accusation made that it was not clear how Bouharrat made a living, she said the defence had provided information on the companies where he had worked. She pointed out that her client did not follow the hunger strike initiated by some of the other accused. Of all the telephone records presented, there are no calls made by Bouharrat to any of the others accused of involvement. On the question of some passport size photographs made by her client, she said this does not mean they were to be used in false documents. On a document found in the wreckage of the Leganés apartment and attributed to Bouharrat she said that this document was in very bad condition. A witness declaration claiming to have seen Bouharrat with Mohamed Afalah on April 26th 2004 could not be correct, it has been shown that Afalah fled Spain immediately following the events in Leganés on the 3rd April 2004. Her client has not attended any of the meetings cited by the prosecution, and nothing else relates him to those committing the bombings.

The absence of proof of any involvement of her client in the group responsible meant that he could not be found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation. She finished by noting that she herself knows the mosque in Lavapies in Madrid, she knew several of the accused from before the bombings and has frequented places associated with the accused. Perhaps on that basis she suggested that there is more evidence against her than against Bouharrat.

Saed el Harrak

The lawyer for Saed el Harrak began by complaining that he was given a week to prepare the defence case. He said that his client was religious and had never hidden that fact. He was married with 2 children and despite what the prosecution had said he was a hard working person. He had got to know Abdennabi Kounjaa because they coincided in the same mosque in Parla, near to Madrid. The wife of Kounjaa accompanied that of El Harrak on a visit to a gynaecologist. He said that Kounjaa had used his clients telephone to make several calls on a journey they made together to leave a car in a garage.

On a farewell message written by Kounjaa that was allegedly found in a bag belonging to El Harrak, the lawyer said that this message was not found by anyone checking the bag until it reached the main investigation team. He said that the authorship of the message was doubtful, not least because it was written in Latin script. He claimed the detention of his client was illegal, and that El Harrak has not been identified in relation to any of the locations associated with the bombings. The accusation of El Harrak belonging to the group responsible since 2001 has not been sustained and the lawyer stated that telephone contacts are not sufficient for someone to be arrested. He called for his client to be freed.

Carmen Toro

The lawyer for Carmen Toro began by saying that Toro was only 20 years old at the time of the train bombings and that her reaction to the pressure of being linked to the bombings shows that she is not a mature person. Despite this, she has no criminal history and worked full-time. The lawyer also emphasised that Toro was married to someone suffering mental illness, Emilio Suárez Trashorras. On phone calls attributed to Carmen Toro, the lawyer said that she left her mobile telephone at home while she was at work and that it could easily have been used by her husband to make calls. The testimony of the police contact of Trashorras made it clear that Toro was not at the centre of her husbands activities. Those of the accused who know who she is knew her only by sight. Carmen Toro never dealt with Rafa Zouhier or Jamal Ahmidam and her presence in meetings related to the sale of the explosives was only because she accompanied her husband to Madrid.

A phrase she is alleged to have said in a police station asking her husband to leave her out of what he told the police had been taken out of context. Without Carmen Toro, nothing would have changed in the preparation of the attacks as she had no function in this and knew nothing about the explosives trafficking. As a woman, she would not be allowed to participate in a conspiracy by radical Islamists.

Emilio Llano Álvarez

The representative for Emilio Llano Álvarez opened by expressing solidarity with the victims of the bombings and stating that he requested the absolution of his client on the grounds of lack of evidence. He said that his client was charged with having failed to properly control the usage of explosives in the Mina Conchita, from where the explosives used in the bombs are said to have come. The lawyer claimed that his client had simply followed the same procedures used by his predecessor and that his refusal to declare proves nothing. It is not true that his client was solely responsible for controlling the material used in the mine. Inspections had never revealed more than small errors in the control carried out at the mine. If there was a failure in control of the explosives, this failure can also be attributed to the Guardia Civil and the management of the mine.

The lawyer said that there is no evidence that the bombs on the trains used explosives from Mina Conchita, and that the case rests on leftovers recovered from the Leganés apartment. It is not possible to state definitively that the explosives found in Leganés came from Mina Conchita, they can only be traced as far as the company that delivers to several mines. There is no evidence to suggest his client knew about the removal of explosives from the mine. Although his client knew Trashorras, this was only because the latter had worked in the same mine.

Adelmajid Bouchar

The lawyer for Abdelmajid Bouchar opened by saying that no witness had placed his client at the scenes connected with the bombings. His DNA had not been found in the vehicles believed to have been used, or on the clothing recovered at Vicálvaro railway station. A witness identification had since been retracted. He said their was no telephone traffic recorded between Bouchar and the other accused, nor was Bouchar recorded as being present at the Madrid property of Virgen del Coro. Nor did he attend the meetings to do the deal over the explosives. He had not been named by any of the key witnesses familiar with Islamist activities. His fingerprints were detected on a book recovered from the wreckage of the Leganés apartment.

He stated that the participation of Bouchar as a material author of the bombings had not been substantiated, nor could he be considered as a participant in the Leganés events as he left the building well before the explosion. On the DNA identification made on a date stone found in a rubbish bag abandoned by Bouchar as he fled, his representative said that the test was not carried out until 2005 after his client was arrested in Serbia. No clothes or fingerprints belonging to Bouchar were discovered in the apartment, because his lawyer said that he was never present in this apartment. On this basis he asked for his client to be absolved.

Footnote: The cases of Bouharrat, El Akil, and El Harrak are hard to call; these are people on the fringes of the case whose level of participation in the bombings is not absolutely clear. Another fine example of defence work by Bouharrat’s lawyer, her closing argument against guilt by association based on who you know was well worked. El Gnaoui’s defence is more difficult, he is more closely associated by evidence to the preparation and carrying out of the bombings. It will be very surprising if Bouchar is freed, almost caught as he fled the Leganés apartment and only arrested after passing through half of Europe, it seems hard to imagine that he will escape punishment. The verdict on Carmen Toro will also be interesting, the charges against her have been increased as a result of the trial as her involvement appeared to be greater than initially expected. Either an unknowing bystander involved through family connections or a player in her husband’s attempts to traffic explosives. Meanwhile, the prosecution of Emilio Llano seems one of the most doubtful, clearly the control of explosives in the mine was appalling but that does still not make someone an accessory to a terrorist attack. Nor was he the only person responsible for that situation.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
El Mundo - Carmen Toro
El Mundo - Mohamed Bouharrat
ABC - Abdelmajid Bouchar
ABC - Otman el Gnaoui

The Trial....Day 53, June 22nd

Rafa Zouhier

The day began with the declaration by the lawyer representing Rafa Zouhier, accused of being the key intermediary in the sale of the explosives to those who carried out the bombings. As with other defence statements, this lawyer claimed that the right to defence had been violated, this time by the refusal of the prosecution to call as witnesses some of those cited in declarations by Emilio Suárez Trashorras and Carmen Toro. The lawyer also challenged the validity of the tests and specialist reports concerning the explosives used in the bombings.

He stated Zouhier was arrested on the 9th April 2004 and suffered pressure from the police. The prosecution accuses him of trafficking with explosives, yet the tests on the explosives are not reliable. This lawyer claimed that it could have been Titadine used in the bombs. He said there were also grounds for suspicion about the unexploded bomb discovered in Puente de Vallecas police station. The chain of custody was not clear, nor was it clear where this bomb had come from. Concerning the Kangoo van discovered near Alcalá railway station on the day of the bombings there are also problems; the sniffer dogs inspecting it detected no explosives and the witness who saw men getting out of the vehicle had changed his declaration.

Zouhier has been accused of making the introduction between Jamal Ahmidam and Trashorras, the lawyer said that Trashorras had done military service in Ceuta and could have made contacts there. He had also admitted to drug deals with people from Ceuta. Zouhier had informed his police controller about everything he knew and at the meeting held in a branch of McDonalds, Zouhier was only present to protect Trashorras because he had not paid for some hashish. The meeting was arranged to discuss drugs, not explosives, as has been declared by Rachid Aglif. There were others who could have told Ahmidam where to obtain Goma 2 Eco dynamite, Trashorras was very friendly with Ahmidam. Trashorras and Antonio Toro did not need intermediaries, they were openly offering explosives.

This lawyer claimed that evidence had been fabricated, and that the testimony on telephone calls was not accurate. Regarding an incident where Zouhier is said to have injured himself testing a detonator, he said that the witness testimony on this was from a resentful former girlfriend of Zouhier. He said that Zouhier did not intervene in the sale of the explosives, nor did he go to Asturias. He did not know Jamal Ahmidam, only Rachid Aglif. The only armed group his client knows is the Civil Guard, and Zouhier informed them of what he knew. The police did nothing with this information. He finished by saying that everyone was against Zouhier.

Mouhannad Almallah Dabas

The lawyer for Mouhannad Almallah Dabas began by stating that there was nothing in the trial to demonstrate the charge that Almallah Dabas was linked to an Al-Qaeda cell led by Abu Dahdah. His client was detained in the Madrid street of Virgen del Coro together with Basel Ghalyoun and Fouad el Morabit. He was imprisoned on the charge of having helped to finance terrorist activities and was accused of providing false documentation to assist those who fled. Additionally, he has been accused of belonging to the movement Takfir Wal Hijra.
He said that his client recognised knowing Abu Dahdah, Serhane ben Abdelmajid , Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed, as well as Ghalyoun and El Morabit. On the accusation that Almallah Dabas travelled frequently to London to meet with other Islamists, the lawyer said that he made these journeys because his brother Moutaz was living there. He made a reference to the testimony against his client by his ex partner concerning the allegation that he gave her passport to someone who wanted to leave Spain. He said that the witness was motivated by resentment and hatred because she had been thrown out by Almallah Dabas. He also said that much emphasis had been placed on an alleged meeting between his client and Jamal Zougam in Tangiers, but that this was a very brief meeting between the 2 men and was not followed up by any other similar encounter.

The lawyer said that the property at Virgen del Coro was under police surveillance, yet no identification was made of the inhabitants before the detention of Ghalyoun and El Morabit. Concerning prints of Almallah Dabas said to have been found in cars connected with the bombings, the lawyer said that these cars were full of all kinds of stuff. He criticised the qualifications of witnesses who had declared that the words of a Koranic tape had been written down by Almallah Dabas. On a CD that was found at Virgen del Coro and which allegedly showed the effects of an explosion on a building, the lawyer said that in reality it was an architects representation of a building design. He ended by saying that the only crime his client had committed was being the “father of the bride”, or the landlord. He asked for Almallah Dabas to be absolved on all charges.

Hamid Ahmidam

Next to declare was the lawyer representing Hamid Ahmidam, who began by questioning the legality of the process given the secrecy that surrounded the preparation of the prosecution case. Regarding the accusation of drugs trafficking against Ahmidam, his representative said that the proof of this was based on drugs found in the property that his client shared with his cousin Hicham. He also claimed that the search of this property was not legal. Concerning the decision of Ahmidam not to declare, he said that this was a fundamental right.

Referring to the accusations against his client, he said that Hamid Ahmidam had lived with Hicham, the brother of Jamal Ahmidam, because he was temporarily unemployed. On the claim that he participated in construction of a cavity for storing explosives at the house in Morata de Tajuña, the lawyer said that Hamid was only there as a worker alongside Otman el Gnaoui. He had contacts with his cousin (Jamal Ahmidam) but was not part of the group organising the bombings, and no evidence has been produced to show otherwise.

Antonio Toro

The final declaration on this day was made by the lawyer representing Antonio Toro, who declared his client to be innocent and to have nothing to hide. The lawyer claimed that several witnesses had lied to the court about the connection between the bombers and the Asturian group accused of supplying the explosives. He said that Rafa Zouhier had attempted to implicate several people, including Toro. Concerning the allegation that it was Toro who introduced Zouhier to Emilio Suárez Trashorras, the lawyer said this was incorrect. Trashorras is the only one who has said that explosives were discussed in the meeting held in a Madrid branch of Mcdonalds. Toro only attended one of these meetings to protect his sister Carmen, former wife of Trashorras. Toro did not want to see his sister involved in the problems that Trashorras had with the others.

The lawyer denied that Toro had pressured Iván Reis Palicio to transport explosives to Madrid in return for cancelling a debt. He said that Toro had distanced himself from Trashorras following the Madrid meeting, and that there was no association between the 2 men. The evidence of telephone calls does not implicate his client, those between Toro and his sister always coincided with family events. There is no evidence of direct contacts between his client and Jamal Ahmidam. There was no need for his cooperation for Zouhier to get in contact with Trashorras, nor was his presence necessary for the carrying out of the attacks. For these reasons, the lawyer called for Toro to be found not-guilty.

Footnote: With today’s session we are a bit closer to the heart of what went on prior to the bombings. My guess is that Zouhier, Toro and Almallah Dabas are all in big trouble. Zouhier has seen his role magnified during the trial from being a mere intermediary to that of someone who was more actively involved in the sale of the explosives. Another police informer, his claim that the police were informed of everything he knew was not backed up during the trial. Toro is too established as a sidekick of Trashorras in their joint trafficking efforts to hope to escape by saying that they were no longer close. He may not have had the same protagonism as the other man, but my feeling is that he will share the same verdict as Trashorras. Almallah Dabas is probably too closely associated with everything that happened at the property of Virgen del Coro for his allegedly non religious lifestyle to save him – he has suffered severe damage from witness testimony in the trial. Hamid Ahmidam could suffer because of his family relationship to Jamal Ahmidam, but he has not featured heavily in the trial as a key player in the group preparing the bombings.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
ABC - Gracias a personas como Zouhier podemos dormir tranquilos
ABC - Lavandera metió a ETA en el 11-M porque se presta a cualquier cosa
ABC - No hay mayor fuerza destructiva que la de una mujer resentida

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Trial....Day 52, June 21st

Today’s session was entirely taken up by the statement of the lawyer representing Emilio Suárez Trashorras, who is accused of being behind the sale of the explosives used in the train bombs. Like other defence lawyers, the representative of Trashorras complained about the secrecy surrounding the investigation of the bombings, saying that what is supposed to be an exceptional state became a permanent one. He said that this secrecy violated the right of his client to defend himself. The lawyer complained about the presentation of police reports as expert evidence. He also complained about the role played by the press, saying that it was not the role of the media to dictate sentence. He said that Islam had been presented as an enemy in the trial, with questions on whether someone prayed or went to a mosque.

Moving on to the accusations against his client, he said that there had been many references in the trial to Operación Pipol, which he said was a drugs trafficking case involving 17 accused. All were found guilty of drugs trafficking, but only Trashorras and Antonio Toro also received a sentence for explosives trafficking. He said that Trashorras became involved after being urged to do so by the police. He claimed there was a tape showing that the police were aware of everything going on in the case. In 2001 Trashorras did not know Rafa Zouhier, accused of being the key contact in the sale of the explosives, but that Antonio Toro did. He said that there were hundreds of telephone calls between Trashorras and his police controller, and that Trashorras told this officer about Jamal Ahmidam. When Trashorras went to the house rented by Ahmidam in Morata de Tajuña in February 2004, he had already advised his police controller the day before.

He said that in Asturias there was widespread knowledge about dynamite because it was a common tool used by miners in their work. The use of dynamite was always charged to the miner in private mines such as that where the explosives are said to have come from. Goma 2 Eco is used in 17 mines belonging to the company that owns the Mina Conchita, yet the prosecution claims to be certain that the stolen explosive came from Mina Conchita. There is no proof of the quantity of explosive that was taken from Mina Conchita. The lawyer claimed that those of the accused who transported bags to Madrid on behalf of Trashorras were carrying hashish. Concerning the testimony of Gabriel Montoya, the minor already convicted for his involvement in the explosives theft, he said that this person had changed his testimony in return for prosecution favours.

He said that his client has admitted to telling Jamal Ahmidam that there were mines where explosives could be obtained. But he also advised his police controller about this. Trashorras only told Ahmidam where he could obtain dynamite, he did not participate in its removal. His client had no way of knowing that Jamal Ahmidam was a terrorist. He said that the charge of collaborating with a terrorist organisation required knowledge of what the group was doing and Trashorras was not even aware of the existence of a terrorist group. He did not become aware of this until after the train bombings.

On the mental state of his client, the lawyer said that the retirement of his client from the mine as a result of mental illness was certified. The State granted him a pension on the basis of permanent incapacity for work. His client suffers from paranoid schizophrenia which affects his personality, and that this condition should be taken into account by the court. He asked for his client to be absolved of all charges against him.

Footnote: Trashorras is in deep trouble. The evidence presented in the trial on the theft of the explosives is not even challenged by those who would have us believe that everything is a setup. Even his own defence does not seriously challenge the accusation that substantial quantities of explosives were taken from the Mina Conchita. He is facing charges as serious as those accused of having participated actively in the bombings, and unless the judges decide to take into account the question of his mental health it doesn't look promising for him. There are serious questions marks over the actions of those in the police who were in contact with him, but I would be surprised if any of that was enough to save him.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
ABC - El abogado de Trashorras dice que no se le puede acusar "de 192 asesinatos"
El País - El abogado de Trashorras reclama saber "qué explosivo se usó en los trenes" el 11-M

The Trial....Day 51, June 20th

Raúl González

The trial continued its final stage with further closing declarations on behalf of the accused. First to appear in this session was the lawyer representing Raúl González Peláez. He began by commenting on the open nature of the trial, and then made a special mention of the victims of the bombings, commending those attending the trial for the restraint they have shown. On behalf of his client, he said that the secrecy imposed during the investigation had affected the right of the accused to defend themselves. His client was unable to find out why he was being held in prison awaiting trial. None of the accused had made references to his client and the only evidence presented against him was a single telephone call. The fact that González had not declared or answered questions was not to be taken as an indication of guilt.

On the telephone evidence against his client, the lawyer said that there was only one short call to Emilio Suárez Trashorras. His client was not working in the mine at the time of the explosives theft and had no relation to any earlier activities by those accused of trafficking with stolen explosives. The lawyer criticized the police handling of information they had received prior to the bombings. He also mentioned the lack of control over the consumption of explosives in the mines, and the lack of security. Anyone could get access to the explosives that had been left out in the open. His client has been imprisoned for 2 years and is unemployed, those who pay for the attacks should be those who committed them but his client should be freed.

Mohamed Moussaten

The next defence lawyer to declare was that acting on behalf of Mohamed Moussaten. This lawyer questioned the legality of the police interrogation of his client, and said that he was never given an explanation for being held in isolation. Moussaten was detained in together with his father, mother and brother. He was held for 4 days without adequate food or drink, and he was threatened with being sent to Morocco if he did not declare. He was only 19 years old at the time of his detention. Because of the pressure he was under, his declaration to the police lacks validity.

This lawyer also attacked the secrecy that surrounded the investigation, saying that this prejudiced the ability of the defence to prepare its case. They were not given access to evidence against the accused and the trial commenced without the detail of the accusation being fully known. The police case against his client is based on suspicion, with the claim that Mohamed and his brother met with Youssef Belhadj between 2001 and 2003. It is claimed that in searching Moussaten’s home a photocopy was found of the passport belonging to Mohamed Afalah. The basis of the accusation is that Mohamed and his brother are nephews of Belhadj, but that this proves nothing. No proof has been provided of a link between the Moussaten family and the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group. His client has declared that his uncle came to Madrid in search of work and that he never talked to Mohamed about jihad, nor did he say that he belonged to Al-Qaeda. He said that the relationship between the 2 men was strictly a family one.

Finally he said that even if Youssef Belhadj was guilty as charged this did not mean that Moussaten had been collaborating with an armed group, or that he formed part of an illicit group whose existence has not even been demonstrated. Moussaten has not been shown to have been in any of the significant sites associated with the bombings and no objective evidence links him to the bombings.

Basel Ghalyoun

The following declaration was made by his lawyer on behalf of Basel Ghalyoun who opened his remarks with an expression of condolence to the victims. He said that the prosecution had invented theories to make everything fit into place. He compared what had happened in the trial with Guantánamo or the activities of Goebbels in Nazi Germany, or even with the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. He criticised the number of samples from the explosion sites and the destruction of the remains of the trains where the bombs exploded and said that the trial was not valid.

He pointed to the absence of suicide terrorists in the bombings, and the absence of links between the accused and Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. He claimed that both of his clients, Ghalyoun and Jamal Zougam, had shown a deep respect for the law and the court that was judging them. The prosecution had not proved anything, not even what exploded on the trains; he criticised the suggestion that the explosives samples had been contaminated. On the witness identification of his client, he said that it was now recognised by the witness that this person was in fact Daoud Ouhnane. Ghalyoun did not know Jamal Ahmidam, nor was he involved in indoctrination sessions. On the alleged relationship between Ghalyoun and Fouad el Morabit he said that they both went together to the mosque. Nobody can be imprisoned for listening to a speech. He said that in the months before the attacks the only interest of Ghalyoun was finding work. He said that the witness who claimed to have seen his client at meetings in the house in the street of Virgen del Coro was mistaken. He said that it was unbelievable that the police could not have prevented the attacks given that they were watching the house at Virgen del Coro.

He claimed Ghalyoun had always been cooperative, and had nothing to hide. He said it was claimed that his client was the owner of telephones that did not belong to him. He stated that the cap found in Leganés with DNA from his client must have been taken there by Rifaat Anouar, no fingerprints belonging to Ghalyoun were found in Leganés. He said that there were doubts over the detection of the Leganés apartment and the explosive used there, and concluded by saying his client should be freed.

Fouad El Morabit

The defence lawyer for Fouad el Morabit began his remarks by emphasising that his client was a normal person, and that the trial had violated basis rights of the accused. His client had suffered torture and threats at the hands of the police. The secrecy of the investigation had prejudiced the right to defence as they were not given time to properly prepare their defence. Much of the case against El Morabit comes from the declarations of Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed and in the end this comes down to one phone call from El Sayed. His client has been accused of being one of the leaders of the group involved in the bombings, yet he did not flee after the bombings, even after being arrested the first time.

He said that El Morabit does not belong to any armed group and the way in which the accusation has been presented is not serious. He said that the accused were being criminalised because of their religion and the places they frequented, this is not sufficient to justify the charges against them. Calls to his client from others allegedly involved had been attributed to certain individuals when the phones used could have been in the possession of others. Accusations concerning El Morabit’s presence in the house in the street of Virgen del Coro come from witnesses whose knowledge is second hand. On the presence of Rifaat Anouar at the property on the day of the bombings, he said that Anouar had his own keys having lived there previously. He asked for his client to be absolved of all charges against him.

Footnote: A mixture of declarations, between those who have minor roles in the supply of the explosives, and those who get us closer to the group alleged to have committed the bombings. Even so, the case against Ghalyoun and El Morabit is not absolutely clear; even given their evident proximity to many of the accused. The case against Moussaten is not strong at all, especially given that his brother has already had charges dropped against him. Note the difference in approach by the lawyer for Ghalyoun, who has been one of those principally involved in attempting to introduce the conspiracy theories into the trial. He begins by forgetting his client and launching into the full range of conspiracy theory insinuations. Then finally he remembers his supposed role and attempts to actually defend his client. Both Ghalyoun and Jamal Zougam have been poorly served, guilty or not, by having a defence lawyer whose main interest has not been presenting their defence. The story of how this lawyer came to be their representative should be told some day, he was not appointed by rota.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
ABC - Ghalyoun, González, Moussaten

The Trial....Day 50, June 19th

This session in the trial saw the end of the final statements by parties to the accusation, and the beginning of those made by defence lawyers for the accused. The first statement was made on behalf of Guillermo Pérez Ajates. His lawyer made a favourable comparison between the actions of Spanish police in relation to the train bombings and the 11th September attacks in the US. Support was given to the accusation as made by the prosecution, the lawyer said that behind the accused was Al Qaeda and that the attacks were carried out as revenge using Spanish participation in Iraq and Afghanistan as a pretext.

On the issue of the explosives used in the bombs, the presence of dinitrotoluene in samples that were tested must be due to contamination and there is no reason to believe that Titadine was the explosive used. The bombs were assembled in the house in Morata de Tajuña rented by Jamal Ahmidam and they were taken to Alcalá de Henares on the day of the bombings using stolen vehicles. The lawyer also said that there was no justification for continuing to talk about ETA involvement in the attacks, given the terrorist threats to Spain a clear sentence was needed.

The prosecution case was also backed by the representative of Maria Jesus Pérez Diaz, who said that this person no longer travelled in train as a result of the attacks and that the victims should be compensated rapidly. The lawyer representing Ana Isabel González Pizcos and others said that they supported the conclusions already presented by the Asociación 11-M Afectados del Terrorismo. The lawyer rejected speculation on the issue of the explosives pointing out that there was evidence that both Goma 2 Eco and its predecessor Goma 2 EC could have been used. The possibility of contamination in the factory or the mine could not be ruled out. The accused and those who died in the Leganés explosion together formed a terrorist conspiracy. The lawyer defended the way in which the bomb disposal unit, the Tedax, had gone about their work; saying they had done what they are supposed to do when dealing with explosives. He said that there were several cases of ETA bombings where the exact composition of the explosive used was unknown.

On the question of ETA involvement, he said that the modus operandi of the bombers meant that there was doubt from the beginning about ETA involvement. ETA members have always acted as single commandos and almost always advise about their bombs in advance. ETA does not use common criminals to steal cars or explosives. Nothing links ETA to the bombings.

The lawyer representing Celestina Piris Méndez offered support to the prosecution case, saying that the events of the 11th March were the result of actions carried out by a cell composed of those facing charges. This representative said that they considered Otman el Gnaoui to be one of the material authors of the bombings as they considered it proven that he travelled on the trains. He criticised the lack of preparation for such an attack on the part of the authorities, and the lack of control over the mine where the explosives are said to have come from. He then attacked those supporting conspiracy theories for implying that those who did not support such theories were not interested in the truth.

The last party to the accusation presenting conclusions was that on behalf of Ramón Matamoros López, and supported the conclusions presented by the prosecution. The lawyer said that they requested an increase in the sentence for Carmen Toro because of her active participation in the sale of the explosives. They also wished to maintain the accusation against Javier González Díaz, withdrawn by the prosecution team. This lawyer also emphasised failures on the part of the state in the period before the bombings.

The Defence Statements Begin

The trial now moved on to the final statements on behalf of the accused, beginning with that of Rachid Aglif. His lawyer expressed sympathy for the victims of the bombings and said that the trial had become politicised. He said that if his client was on trial for being religious, then he must be absolved. Those who coincided in the prison of Villabona made their deals without the participation of his client. He said that his client was asked by Rafa Zouhier to attend a meeting held at a branch of McDonalds in Madrid. According to this lawyer, behind the presence of Zouhier and Emilio Suárez Trashorras was that of their police controllers. It is absurd to believe that this meeting was the only event leading to the bombings. When another meeting took place in Moncloa his client was in Malaga. He declared that his client was innocent and that he was never the right hand man of Jamal Ahmidam, as alleged by the prosecution.

Aglif's lawyer questioned whether it was even possible to talk of the existence of a terrorist group in connection with the bombings; nobody can be accused of collaborating with such a group if the existence of the group itself has not been proven. He accepted that the explosives used in the bombs came from Asturias but said that there was no proof of them being handed over. His client had been a friend of Jamal Ahmidam, but could not be condemned for this. The police had opportunities to arrest Ahmidam before the bombings. The bombs could have been placed during the night when the trains were out of service. He finished by saying that a partial truth is worse than a lie.

The next defence lawyer appeared on behalf of Sergio Álvarez Sánchez. He said that his client was 22 years old at the time of the bombings and had no criminal record. He was promised €600 by Emilio Suárez Trashorras in return for taking a box of "DVD's" to Madrid, which was understood by his client to be a coded reference to hashish. On arrival in Madrid he had to wait 45 minutes until a person unknown to him arrived to collect the box. There is no evidence that his client carried out any other task at the request of Trashorras, either before or after the bombings. His client does not know Carmen or Antonio Toro, or Rafa Zouhier or any Islamists. He said that his client first got to know Trashorras in January 2004.There is no evidence that Álvarez knew what he was transporting and he asked the court to absolve his client from the charges against him.

The lawyer on behalf of Javier González Díaz brought this day's session to a close. The prosecution has withdrawn charges against his client, but other parties to the accusation maintain them. He said that his client got to know Trashorras as a result of car sales, as González is a mechanic. His client did not know about Trashorras' illegal activities. He said that an accusation cannot be sustained on suspicion alone and that his client was not involved in the theft of the explosives. He said his client should be compensated for losing his job and having to pay expenses related to the trial.

Footnote: The trial has now moved into its final stage as the defence lawyers make their closing pleas. This day saw statements from some of the bit part players in the bombings, those who are accused of having been involved in some way without being necessarily being part of the main core of the group carrying out the bombings.

Datadiar - Daily Summary
El Mundo - Rachid Aglif
ABC - Defence Statements