Yesterday saw the start of the trial of those accused for the bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid on March 11th 2004. The chief culprits face extreme sentences, including a possible 38,656 years for Rabei Osman el Sayed, aka “Mohamed the Egyptian”, who is accused of masterminding the attacks, and 38,670 years for Jose Emilio Suarez Trashorras, the Asturian miner accused of selling 200 kilos of explosives to those that carried them out.
There is more at stake here than simple justice. The Partido Popular claimed at the time that ETA was responsible for the attacks, and along with El Mundo newspaper, continue to cast doubt on the veracity of forensic findings that show the explosive used to be Goma 2 Eco, the same explosive stolen by the above mentioned miner in Asturias and allegedly sold to those currently on trial. The matter of the explosives has become central to the whole trial, with conspiracy theorists and El Mundo claiming that that there is reasonable doubt that Goma 2 Eco was in fact involved, which theoretically still leaves room for an ETA (or other) connection in the whole complicated puzzle. The results of the trial could have a serious affect on the integrity of both the newspaper and the PP.
Those who jump on either side of the Goma 2 Eco fence face harsh criticism, or worse. Pilar Manjon, Presisident of the Association of those affected by the March 11th bombings, lost her 20 year old son in the attacks. For openly criticising the El Mundo theories, and the Partido Popular and their “playgound politics”, this emotionally devastated woman has received death threats and now has to live with a permanent bodyguard.
For thorough coverage of the most important trial in Spain’s recent history, the main players, and the whole Goma 2 Eco debacle, see the appropriately named blog “Playing Chess with the Dead”.