Presenter repeats claim that mayor wants to move on after 2004 bombings
The radio presenter accused of slander by Madrid mayor repeats his claim that the mayor did not want to fully investigate the 2004 bombings.29 May 2008
MADRID - Federico Jiménez Losantos, the firebrand radio presenter accused of slander by the mayor of Madrid, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, repeated his claim during the first day of his court case Wednesday that the politician did not want the Madrid terrorist bombings of 2004 "fully investigated".
Speaking before the same court, Gallardón, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), said that Losantos' insults were "the most serious and slanderous" that have ever been directed at him during his political career.
The case was brought by Gallardón after Losantos, who is one of the star presenters on the Catholic Church's COPE radio station, made pejorative comments about the mayor in 2006 after Gallardón said that the party should "get over" the attacks and "avoid radicalisation."
He was referring to the various conspiracy theories that were at times fuelled by the PP that Basque terrorist group ETA was somehow involved in the bombings. An Islamist terror cell was convicted for the crime.
Losantos said on air that Gallardón "didn't care about the 200 dead, 1,500 injured, and the brutal blow to get your party out of government, as long as he got into power." He also called Gallardón "a traitor, a bandit, an utter fake and a lackey of the opposition."
Losantos is facing a fine of EUR 72,000 should he lose the case, which Gallardón has said he will donate to the Victims of Terrorism Association.
In his defence, Losantos said that his words had been "taken out of context" and that he was referring to the "political and public" dimensions of the mayor, and that he was being "satirical" rather than offensive. He also described the mayor as having an "untrustworthy character".
In his statements, Gallardón said that he had previously felt "deeply offended" by Losantos' insults, but that he had not felt slandered until the presenter suggested that the mayor "wanted those responsible for [the bombings] to go unpunished."
A series of high-profile witnesses came out to support both sides yesterday, including Eduardo Zaplana. The former PP parliamentary spokesman said that Gallardón had formed part of the decision-making process as to the party's posture after the attacks, and that all members of the party "were looking to bring all of the facts to light".
This line was supported by Ángel Acebes, the PP's general secretary, and Esperanza Aguirre, Madrid's regional leader, who also spoke in court.
The editor of newspaper El Mundo, which put its weight behind the suspicions that ETA was involved in the attacks, Pedro J. Ramirez, also spoke in court yesterday. Asked about the original comments that Ruiz-Gallardón made, he said that he asked himself at the time how the mayor of a city that had suffered such an attack "could declare publicly the need to move on".
He also said that Losantos' comments were "not in any way outside of the normal guidelines of any Spanish radio station".
[El Pais / Expatica]