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March 11: An ongoing pageant of paranoia

The government must not demoralize society by fostering speculation on a closed case

The attorney general, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, said on Monday that the court ruling on the March 11, 2004 bombings is an “unanswerable” one, and that he has no plans to reopen the case. Yet this statement comes just 10 days after he announced an investigation into the wreckage of a train car — recently located in a rail yard — that is supposedly from the terrorist bombings in 2004.

The prosecutor’s waverings, and his later clarification, only serve to nourish the latest round of second-guessing about a police and judicial investigation that went on for years; a trial held in front of television cameras; a ruling of the National High Court, confirmed by the Supreme Court; and several later judicial rulings, all refusing to reopen the investigation in spite of various attempts to make that happen.

The government must, once and for all, put a stop to attempts to use victims of terrorism for political ends, because this is what this is all about. The extreme right and its media clientele are still bent on eking out the last dregs of a conspiracy theory that argues that the explosive used in the attacks was of the kind habitually used by ETA; and that therefore the real perpetrators of the attack were not the persons convicted of it, or perhaps used these persons as mere instruments.

The far right is still irked because the trial arising from the atrocity did not demonstrate the participation of ETA in the attack, as the Aznar government had initially claimed. Yet this sector appears to cling to the hope of beclouding the matter sufficiently to make use of it during the phase of the final disbanding of ETA. Thus it now brings forward, as a fact pregnant with meaning, the existence of certain scraps of the train cars, ignoring the work done at the time by the Civil Guard and the National Police on the bombed trains, which formed part of the earlier proceedings.

For the moment, the result of this climate of suspicion, and of the new move to investigate — though now qualified by the attorney general — is to accentuate a deplorable division among the relatives of the 192 people killed by the bombers, all too apparent at the recent commemorations of the Atocha attacks. The president of the Association for the Victims of Terrorism (AVT), Ángles Pedraza, says that investigation into March 11 must continue because “justice has not been done.” On the contrary, the president of the association representing the majority of the March 11 victims, Pilar Manjón, has called on the prosecutor not to countenance “the repugnant, paranoid conspiracy theory,” and has been abusively answered by those who attack anyone who does not toe their line.

The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, who is reputed to be a serious, pragmatic man, and his party too, would render poor service to the public interest if they took the course of courting the favor of the extreme right by lending credence to these polarizing campaigns and extremist canards, thus contributing to division and demoralization in a society already gravely affected by the economic and social crises.


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