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 His lawyer pointed out that some of the parties to the accusation have already withdrawn their accusation against his client.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»

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