Expatica news

Acebes: we did not lieabout Madrid massacre

28 July 2004

MADRID – Former Spanish interior minister Angel Acebes told the parliamentary commission of inquiry investigating the Madrid train bombings Wednesday that the ousted government in which he served did not lie in the wake of the attacks.

The conservative government of Jose Maria Aznar, ousted in general elections three days after the bombings, “never lied”, Acebes told the hearing into the background to the attacks.

“There was no manipulation, no invention, and no political interpretation” on the part of the former government, Acebes insisted.

Leftist parties, including the Socialists, who won the 14 March poll after the bombings of four commuter trains galvanised voters, have accused the former government of deliberately misleading the public by insisting for two days after the blasts that Basque extremists ETA were responsible.

In fact, evidence pointing to Islamic militants began to emerge within hours of Spain’s worst ever terrorist attack which killed 191 people and injured about 1,900.

Acebes accused the other parties of “undertaking an electoral strategy against the clock.”

He accused the rivals of his Popular Party of sowing “in infamous fashion a ruse that the government was manipulating information to its own end, hiding the truth, and that it also had anti-constitutional pretensions.”

Acebes, who was the public face of the government’s early insistence that Basque separatist group ETA carried out the bombings, further demanded that the inquiry broaden its remit in order to determine the extent to which “the shadow of ETA (was present) during those hours.”

After evidence emerged linking Moroccan extremists, believed to be affiliated to al-Qaeda, to the blasts the former government suggested that there could be a link between ETA and Islamic radicals, but PP calls for the inquiry to follow up that theory have been rejected.

The inquiry is seeking to determine to what degree Aznar’s government had good reason to blame ETA for the bombings until the eve of the election.

With evidence by then emerging to suggest that the government line was wrong, PP rivals and many voters suspected an attempt to mislead the public.

The idea that Islamic extremists had attacked Spain was dangerous for Aznar’s party as the former prime minister strongly backed US policy in Iraq and many Spaniards construed the Islamic connection as an act of revenge for that stance.

Of 19 people currently in custody in connection with the bombings, 17 are Moroccan nationals.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news