Oct 15, 2014

Witness PRH155: Spanish police inspector

Witness PRH155, testifying under that pseudonym, is a Spanish police inspector working on anti-terrorism cases. He has extensive experience in relation to investigating car bombs: his first voluntary posting was in the north of Spain, were the ETA terrorist movement was very active.

Witness PRH155 was in charge of the Spanish 9-member investigation team that went to Beirut in 2006, investigating the bombing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's motorcade; their final report is dated 14 July 2006. The witness and his team conducted a final investigation of the crime scene, though this was some fifteen months after the explosion had taken place. The witness concedes that it is not an ideal situation to investigate a crime scene some fifteen months after the crime. The site had already been manipulated and adjusted by previous investigation teams, but they specifically searched for areas that may have been overlooked or left out by previous investigators.

 The witness indicates that in spite of his extensive experience in Spain, he had never been confronted with an investigation like the one in Beirut, where there were so many items found. The Spanish investigation team found several biological and other items; nine thereof were identified as coming from the 'unknown man' (we blogged earlier about this 'unknown man', see here). One of the judges asked the witness how in his view it was possible that they still managed to find new pieces of evidence some fifteen months after the attack, after so many investigative teams had already examined the area, and the witness attempts to answer this by saying that perhaps immediately subsequent the attack people were not sufficiently calm to proceed with caution to examine a crime scene like that.

The witness further testified to certain shortcomings in the preservation of the crime scene, including the heavy machinery used, the piling up of rubble, and the fact that they were the last team on the scene after many others had already investigated the area.

In his testimony, this witness also testifies about the shortage of time given to do the investigation. He had attempted to convince the UN to give their team more time, but the UN explained that the time period was not negotiable.

We would like to thank our intern, Ms. Eleonore Kahn, for her analysis of witness PRH155's testimony for this blog post.

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