PP labels Madrid bomb inquiry claims 'ridiculous'

24th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 June 2005, MADRID — The conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) has attacked the inquiry into the Madrid train bombings for its "ridiculous" claims that former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar had manipulated the terrorist atrocity for political aims.

24 June 2005

MADRID — The conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) has attacked the inquiry into the Madrid train bombings for its "ridiculous" claims that former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar had manipulated the terrorist atrocity for political aims.

The PP also said the accusations against Aznar were party-politically motivated.

The PP, which refused to back the conclusions of the inquiry, called for the commission to carry on investigating what happened.

The controversial inquiry into the Madrid train bombings accused Aznar of 'manipulaing' and 'distorting' the tragedy for electoral ends.

Aznar, whose PP was in charge when the Islamic terrorists struck on 11 March last year, initially blamed ETA — provoking a backlash from voters in the general three days later.

The Socialist opposition party won a shock victory, against all predictions.

Many voters believed Aznar was trying to deflect blame for the attacks, in which 191 people died, because his government had supported the US invasion of Iraq.

Among other conclusions of the inquiry, which sat for more than a year, were that ETA played no role in the blasts, contradicting a conservative conspiracy theory that sought to establish links between the Basque separatists and the Islamist extremists police hold responsible.

The Aznar administration initially blamed the attacks on ETA despite mounting evidence pointing to a Moroccan group tied to al-Qaeda.

Aznar's party, now in opposition, had campaigned on its fight against ETA.

According to the 290-page document, the Aznar administration largely ignored the increasing threat of an Islamist strike on Spanish soil.

Among the warning signs, the panel cited Spain's support for the war in Iraq and the 2003 explosions in Casablanca which killed 24 people at a Spanish social club.

"The Casablanca attacks marked a turning point," the panel concluded, citing testimony from intelligence experts.

"Without a doubt, what most surprised the commission is that the politicians leading the fight against terrorism were conscious of the threat and what measures that should have been taken, and yet they did not act accordingly."

A fragmented police force, poor coordination with intelligence services and a lack of resources, including few Arabic translators, also hindered the government's ability to prevent an attack, the report concluded.

Despite party-political bickering, all groups on the inquiry have agreed to new measures to help victims of terrorism and greater cooperation between different police, security forces and the judiciary to combat terrorism.

Alter disagreeing for weeks, the PP has backed the pact against terrorism.

The inquiry has been heavily criticised by victims' groups who said it was mired in party political in-fighting.

Pilar Manjon, president of the Victims of the 11 March, said the inquiry had degenerated into an arena for "playground politics", forcing many members of the inquiry to apologise for not addressing the problem.

Manjon, whose own son was killed in the Madrid bombings, recently said she has had to leave Madrid because of death threats from far Right figures.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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