Friday, August 03, 2007

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

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