Saturday, August 11, 2007

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

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