Madrid massacre inquiry on verge of collapse

15th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 September 2004, MADRID – The inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Madrid terrorist attacks appeared to be on the verge of collapse Thursday after the opposition Popular Party threatened to withdraw.

16 September 2004

MADRID – The inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Madrid terrorist attacks appeared to be on the verge of collapse Thursday after the opposition Popular Party threatened to withdraw.

Eduardo Zaplana, Popular Party spokesman, said his party might withdraw after a row over the appearance of prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Zaplana said his party had not made a final decision.

But at the same time, his party colleague on the inquiry appeared to throw the matter into confusion.

PP spokesman Vicente Martínez Pujalte said his party would not abandon the inquiry.

Earlier, Zaplana said the PP had lost out because its plea for Zapatero to appear had been rejected by the chairman Paulino Rivero, who said the request had not been formally made.

Zaplana denounced the refusal of their request as "a scandal without precedent for a democratic country" and "a pantomime" and threatening "consequences".

"We have not been able to call anyone to the inquiry. In what democratic country does this happen?" Zaplana said in an interview with the Antena 3 television station.

Zaplana said Zapatero should before the inquiry so he could be questioned about the actions of the then opposition Socialist party between 11 and 14 March.

The PP have accused the Socialists of being behind an illegal demonstration outside their offices in Madrid on the day before the election, 14 March. In Spain the day before an election, the Day of Reflection, political demonstrations are banned.

The latest row follows the decision to call former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar to give evidence before the inquiry.

The question of the former Spanish premier's appearance had sparked controversy as many media commentators claimed without evidence from the man leading the country at the time of the atrocity, the inquiry lacked credibility.

The PSOE and the PP had previously said they believed Aznar's appearance was not necessary, having heard from former members of his government, including a marathon, day-long appearance by Acebes.

On Monday, however, Zapatero said he was "favourable" to Aznar being called and was himself prepared to appear.

The inquiry is trying to establish what happened in the immediate aftermath of the bombings, when Aznar's government claimed ETA carried out the attacks.

The PP continued with this claim despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

The general public construed this as a tactic to stop voters at the general election on 14 March from siding against the government because its support for the Iraq was thought to made Spain a target for Islamic terrorists.

The opposition Socialist party won a shock victory which many believed was the result of the former government's handling of the disaster.

Aznar will appear after the inquiry resumes on 5 October.

The ex-secretary of State for Security, Ignacio Astarloa, and police chiefs from Asturias in northern Spain will also appear. The explosives used in the attacks were stolen from a mine in Asturias.

Spanish press reports have claimed some of those involved in stealing the explosives were also police informers but their police handlers failed to detect the link to Islamic terrorists.

Among others who will give evidence will be German Islamic terrorism expert, Prof Peter Wallman, the head of Europol  Mariano Simancas and the president of the 11 March Victims' Association, Clara Escribano.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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