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The president of the court that judged 11-M believes that "the sentence could be improved": "I should have tried harder"

He maintains that there was "sufficient evidence" to convict Antonio Toro: "We fell short".

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The president of the court that judged 11-M believes that "the sentence could be improved": "I should have tried harder"

He maintains that there was "sufficient evidence" to convict Antonio Toro: "We fell short"


The president of the court of the National Court that judged the attacks of March 11, 2004 and now a judge on leave, Javier Gómez Bermúdez, believes that "the sentence can be improved" and was not "round" because the first instance was not condemned. Antonio Toro, despite the fact that the Supreme Court finally imposed a four-year sentence on him for trafficking in explosives.

"I should have tried harder, because if I could reason a little more, the Supreme Court would probably have validated the conviction. We understood that there was enough evidence to convict him and we fell short," he acknowledges in an interview with Europa Press on the occasion of the 20th. anniversary of the terrorist attacks, facts that expire this Monday.

Gómez Bermúdez, who has been a lawyer at the Ramón y Cajal firm for seven years, was the president of the court and the speaker of the sentence that convicted 18 people for the attacks that took the lives of 193 people and left more than 2,000 injured. .

The judge on leave emphasizes that although the sentence itself "was not round", he believes that "a correct job" was done. Of course, he assures that it is still not explained how they overlooked the issue regarding Toro. "I think we were so involved... Well (it crossed my mind), to me in particular, that he was the speaker and therefore was obliged to propose the legal theses to his colleagues," he adds.

Despite this nuance, later corrected by the high court, Gómez Bermúdez believes that the facts were clearly proven. That is why he regrets the existence of "conspiracy theories", which in his opinion "have done a lot of harm to the victims."

"The pain they feel for what they have suffered, for what has happened to them, is further increased by doubt, artificially created. To continue discussing things as absurd as whether ETA intervened, or whether there was titadine or not... I believe that has done a lot of damage," he says.

Looking back, Gómez Bermúdez remembers that in the months after the attacks "society was divided" and different sides were created, also among the media. "There are those who treated the information more dignifiedly and those who did not. But the conspiracy theories do not have the slightest basis," he insists.

Along these lines, the now lawyer regrets that "there are still politicians, most of them retired, who continue to hold unsustainable theses." "It is their right, they are citizens, they have freedom of expression; they will see. But that is simply an opinion," he adds.

Despite everything, twenty years after the attacks Gómez Bermúdez maintains that "never, before, during or after the sentencing" has anyone scolded him or reproached him for his actions. "No one has approached me on the street, let's say with bad manners, quite the opposite. The few that approach me are to ask me or thank me. People are very kind," he acknowledges.

Asked if he considers that there were lawyers who did not act well when defending their clients, Gómez Bermúdez points out that he was surprised that "some, very few, were private accusations and acted as defenses."

"This had me perplexed," he acknowledges, before indicating that the president of a court, in circumstances like this, can make the radical decision to expel these lawyers from the process. "But if you do that - it is explained - you give a cause for nullity. Therefore, you put up with the downpour and that's it, you put up with the accusations asking things that are not in their writings, they put forward different theses and they cannot do so."

However, the judge on leave applauds the "magnificent work" of the majority of the defense lawyers who participated and "above all," he highlights, "the lawyers on duty," for whom "it was an enormous sacrifice because their offices were "They had to close for a year or so," since the trial lasted four and a half months - from February 15 to July 2, 2007 - plus the time until the Supreme Court handed down a final ruling in 2008. "They did a huge effort, my memory is very good," he highlights.

Gómez Bermúdez rejects that what he experienced in the 11-M trial influenced his decision to leave the judiciary, pointing out that the sentence was handed down in 2007 and his voluntary leave to practice as a lawyer occurred a decade later, in 2017, after two years as a liaison judge in France.

He does admit that after the sentencing of the attacks and after the Yak-42 plane crash, which was "particularly damaging" for his future in his judicial career, he was "amortized."

"I already knew that I was not going to make it to the Supreme Court. And there comes a time when I decide to try other experiences, nothing more," he says, adding that he does not rule out being able to return to the judiciary, a return that has not stopped. raise because he considers himself a "judge by vocation", but slips that he sees it as "frankly difficult".

So that what happened on March 11, 2004 is not forgotten, the now lawyer considers it "essential" that classes be taught in schools. "Some subject with ethical content must be given to the children, so that they understand what intolerance is, what radicalism is, where it has led historically, etc.," he maintains.

It is not enough, in his opinion, to remember the attacks in Madrid or terrorism in general in traditional subjects such as History, where he believes that the contents are taught in a generic way. "That's not enough for me," he says, demanding a subject that, "through ethics, teaches democratic behavior, the democratic basis," which is "essential."

Regarding whether he sees Spain well coordinated police and judicially to prevent new attacks, Gómez Bermúdez emphasizes the role of chance: "It plays with black humor, it seems like a joke to see how factors come together to make it happen, and half of them are from chance. They are misfortunes that occur. In all attacks, we must not forget, there is a component of bad luck."

The judge on leave points out that in an attack there is always a security failure. In this sense, he mentions that in Barcelona, ​​in August 2017, there was no obstacle on the street that would prevent the terrorists' van from entering Las Ramblas and running over many people, as well as that "no one was It happens to think that no one has 30 butane cylinders", in reference to the explosion in the house in Alcanar (Tarragona) that the jihadist cell used.

"There is always a security failure, but after the fact it is very easy to prevent things," he warns, after remembering that many Spanish cities decided, after the attack in Nice (France) in 2016, to put up physical obstacles to prevent certain areas from pedestrians could enter vehicles with the intention of attacking.

Of the 18 convicted of the attacks, only three remain in prison: Jamal Zougan, Othman el Gnaoui and José Emilio Suárez Trashorras. Legal sources explain to Europa Press that the three will serve their respective sentences in 2044; The first two are in the first degree and Trashorras in the second degree.

The remaining 15 are free because they have already served their respective sentences. Of the total, 8 were expelled to their countries of origin once their punishments were discharged. Another of the convicted persons, Hassan el Haski, was extradited to Morocco in June 2019 when he served his sentence for 11-M to enter prison for another judicial matter.