The Parliamentary commission set up to investigate the handling of the 11th March terrorist attacks in Madrid started questioning witnesses two days ago.
Although officially the Commission has been set up to find out exactly what can be done in the future to avoid or better manage terrorist attacks, rather than to signal political responsability, commentators are already drawing political conclusions and the big question being asked by many is did the Popular Party filter or omit information suggesting that Islamic terrorists were behind the attacks in the days following the bombing because of the general elections due to be held three days later.
Aznar, Acebes (the PP Interior Minister) and other PP government ministers appeared in press conferences and continued to indicate that all the evidence pointed at ETA, until the evening before the general elections were held, when the Interior Minister, Acebes, said that police were starting to investigate a possible Islamic connection although he insisted that ETA remained the prime suspect.
That night, Acebes announced that the first arrests had been made in connection to the attack – a Morroccan man and two Asian men.
The evidence given by the first witnesses called before the parliamentary commission yesterday and the day before certainly seems to back the view that, for whatever reason, the Popular Party government ignored the fact that police started investigating the link with Islamic terrorist groups right from the start of their investigations. According to the head of the Interior Ministry’s bomb disposal unit, the first declarations made by Acebes and Aznar accusing ETA for the attacks were made before experts had determined what kind of explosives were used in the bombs. The leader of the investigation, Jesus de la Morena, during his appearance said that there was a “storm of ideas” among police officials at their first emergency meeting after the attacks, and no conensus.
Despite this, just an hour after the meeting concluded, Acebes appeared on television blaming ETA. And finally the director of a unit specialising in Islamic terrorismo declared before the commission yesterday that his team had already taken over the inquiry when the Spanish government continued to blame ETA.
The investigation continues.
See more information on the attack and how the Government reacted here:
The day after,
Eta denies responsability
Government accused by Cadena Ser of misleading the Spanish public.