Expatica news

Spain awaits Aznar’s version of Madrid bombings

26 November 2004

MADRID- Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar is due to appear before Spain’s parliamentary inquiry into the 11 March bombings on Monday in a long-awaited hearing.

Aznar will be followed on 13 December  by the present Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Aznar, who led the country at the time of the bombings in which 191 people were killed, had been pressed by opposition parties to appear for many months.

The former leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP) had always said he was prepared to give evidence.

But party officials insisted the former interior minister Angel Acebes had revealed what happened during the immediate aftermath of the attacks and Aznar could not add anything new.

The Aznar government lost the general election three days after the attacks, amid widespread belief that the PP administration had lied by insisting the Basque separatist group ETA were behind the attacks, not Islamic radicals.

Aznar’s government was perceived as trying to deflect attention from Spain’s involvement in the Iraq invasion, which was said to have provoked the attacks.
Meanwhile, former European justice and home affairs minister
told the inquiry any country in Europe could have suffered the same fate.

“All European countries were equally a target,” said Vitorino, the latest in a swathe of politicians and police investigators to give evidence to the hearing which started in July.
four months after  worst ever terrorist attack.

Vitorino said he personally discounted the idea that PP support for the Iraq war had provoked the attacks in Madrid.

“I would not make a link between a political decision and an attack,” Vitorino said.

He also told the investigation that Portugal believed some suspected radicals picked up in recent sweeps in Spain on suspicion of plotting to blow up the Madrid supreme court and other buildings in the city had been seeking to obtain explosives in Portugal.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso later Thursday announced that Madrid and Lisbon were setting up with immediate effect a joint alert system designed to signal any missing explosives.

The explosives used in the March 11 bombings were transported to Madrid from the northern Spanish region of Asturias after a former miner passed them to radical Muslims who claimed responsibility for the attacks, which also injured some 2,000 people.

Last week, a Spanish teenager from Asturias became the first March 11 suspect to be sentenced for his part in the bombings, receiving six years in youth detention after he pleaded guilty to handling explosives.

A further 18 suspects, most of them Moroccans, are being held on suspicion of involvement in the attacks, clamed by Islamic radicals affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news