'Mistakes' made in Madrid bomb trial evidence

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2007, MADRID- The trial here of 29 mainly Middle Eastern men for Spain's deadliest terrorist attack was rocked when court translators testified to "serious mistakes" in transcripts of wiretapped conversations between the reputed mastermind of the Madrid massacre and one of his associates.

31 May 2007

MADRID- The trial here of 29 mainly Middle Eastern men for Spain's deadliest terrorist attack was rocked when court translators testified to "serious mistakes" in transcripts of wiretapped conversations between the reputed mastermind of the Madrid massacre and one of his associates.

Rabei Osman El Sayed, alias "Mohammad the Egyptian," is accused of plotting the March 11, 2004, bombings on Madrid commuter trains that left 191 dead and more than 1,800 wounded.

Osman and disciple Yahia Mouad Mohamed Rajah were arrested in Milan, Italy in June 2004.

Italian authorities, who were investigating Osman for recruiting Muslims to go to Iraq, hastened his arrest due to suspicion that he intended to leave the country and was planning new attacks in Europe prior to the June 13, 2004, European Parliament elections.

He was convicted in Italy on terrorism charges on Nov. 6, 2006 - having been sent back there from Spain in April 2005 to face trial - and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The charge that he masterminded the March 11 attack in Madrid rests mainly on the content of telephone conversations intercepted by Italian police.

But according to the two National Court translators who testified on Wednesday, who normally work as interpreters in the March 11 probe, there are some phrases uttered by "The Egyptian" that were poorly translated by the Italians due to unfamiliarity with the Arabic language and the Arab culture.

"The attack in Madrid was my project and those who died martyrs are my dearest friends," Osman purportedly told his comrade Yahia in one of the calls tapped by Italian police, alluding to the seven March 11 suspects who blew themselves up in an apartment in April 2004 as police surrounded the building.

The Spanish translators' rendering of the same exchange is as follows:

- Osman: "All my friends left. They're all gone. I was left alone. All my friends are gone. There are those who died on God's path in Afghanistan. I'm not going to hide from you the Madrid operation they had just carried out. That train in Madrid that blew up, those are my people who did it, ... our people."

- Yahia: "In Spain?"

- Osman: "Yes, all of them are my friends. Of them, five fell as martyrs, may they rest in peace, and eight are in jail, but God didn't want my martyrdom and saved me from jail. I wasn't with them at that time but they were my people ... And I knew about it beforehand, but exactly ... but exactly what was going to happen, they didn't tell me."

One of the National Court translators who analyzed 60 hours of tape, called the Italians' translation "a bad false interpretation that shows the lack of knowledge of the Arab culture or theological quotes."

Upon questioning by prosecutor Olga Sanchez, one of the Spaniards said that the Italian translators "furnished a whole context that does not agree with the original transcription."

With a certain amount of tension, Sanchez asked them again why they felt that their own translation was more professional than the one made in Italy.

One of the interpreters responded: "We invest more time and, honestly, I believe that in Italy they did it thoughtlessly and irresponsibly."

Spanish prosecutors have asked that - if convicted of the 191 murder counts and 1,825 counts of attempted murder corresponding to those wounded in the bombings - Osman be sentenced to nearly 39,000 years in jail. According to Spanish law, however, the maximum sentence that he can receive is 40 years.

Osman, the first of the defendants to testify in the current trial, denied any role in the bombings and denounced violence as contrary to the tenets of Islam. EFE

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

0 Comments To This Article