Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Too Much Acid Damages The Brain

One of the most bizarre and ridiculous creations of those behind the conspiracy theories about the Madrid bombings has returned to haunt us, several months after the end of the trial. The case against several senior senior police officers accused of manipulating official reports began yesterday in Madrid. The background to this trial begins with a police report produced following the search of the residence of Hassan el Haski, one of those sentenced in the main trial last year. The police report focused on the finding of a quantity of boric acid in El Haski's home. The "specialists" preparing the report did some investigation in their databases and found that the same substance had also previously been recovered from a house used by an ETA commando and in a case concerning what the Spanish press refer to as an "anti-system" activist. There was no relationship between the different cases, and more importantly there is no evidence linking the presence of boric acid to the activities of any of those detained. Boric acid is sold openly and legally over the counter in Spain for a variety of uses including reduction of foot odour and killing cockroaches.

Despite the absence of any data linking the different cases the initial report produced by the police attempted to suggest that there could be a connection between the finding of boric acid in El Haski's home, and in that used some years earlier by the ETA commando. This speculative piece of guesswork was removed from the final report on the orders of superior officers. It's not hard to find good motives for doing so, given the lack of any connection between a common household substance and terrorist activities. It is reasonably likely that coffee was also present in the residences searched in these different cases, but no one would have looked favourably at a report suggesting connections between Islamists and ETA just because of the discovery of that substance.

However, with the conspiracy theorists busily working to undermine the case against those accused of the bombings in 2006, strange things started to happen. The officers responsible for the original report oddly decided to try and resubmit their original report over a year after it had first been prepared, speculative nonsense about boric acid included. The attempt failed, but the report then quickly found its way to El Mundo who immediately led in typical style with a story claiming that there were attempts to suppress evidence of ETA connections to the Madrid bombings. Supporters of the conspiracy theories then presented an accusation alleging falsification of official documentation against senior officers and managed to manoeuvre the handling of the case so that it would be dealt with by a judge in Madrid with known conservative sympathies.

The case has now come to court and will be tried even though the state prosecution service regards the accusation as completely unfounded. The accusation is instead being sustained by the usual suspects, pro conspiracy theory victims associations and their political allies. Anyone found guilty of the charges faces a potential prison sentence, yet it seems hard to believe that such an outcome is possible even with the known politicisation of the Spanish judicial system. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of judicial issues pile up in a system that is acknowledged to be failing to serve its purpose. Yet cases such as this one, which owe their existence solely to the determination of the conspiracy theorists to press anything that has even the most tenuous of connections to ETA, are allowed to proceed and clog up the courts.

El País - El policía que quitó las alusiones a ETA en un informe del 11-M dice que "eran absurdas"
El Mundo - Ramírez exculpa al comisario Santano y asume que alteró el informe del ácido bórico