May 08, 2007

Making sure that the terrorists don't win, Spanish style.

While Dubya's administration does its best to ensure that terrorism suspects are denied legal protections and to keep the press away from terrorism trials, the Spanish government is not only trying the accused Madrid train bombers in public, but is broadcasting that trial live on television and on the Internet.

The trial, held in a converted brick building on the grounds of a former exhibition center, is a judicial experiment that is being observed around the globe. A Web site allows viewers to witness, from anywhere in the world, how a Spanish court is dealing with a particularly brutal attack in the global jihad. By going to, anyone can experience how the suspects are seeking to justify their actions and how their attorneys are defending them....

The image that [video technician] Roberto Gallego selects on his mixing console is first sent to TVE, the Spanish state television network, which then distributes the signal to anyone interested in a direct feed. That amounts to millions of curious onlookers throughout Spain. In addition to a few regional and private broadcasters, Datadiar, a specialized Internet portal for the legal profession, is streaming the entire terrorism trial. Internet users elsewhere, including the United States, Peru, Germany and even Pakistan, are viewing the direct transmission -- and by last week the site had already tracked 6 million page impressions.

The virtual audience is there when Rabei Osman Ahmed, nicknamed "Mohammed the Egyptian," the attackers' suspected ideologue, operates his remote control for Arab translation and insists: "I am completely innocent." They can also listen to the heart-wrenching stories of the survivors of the attack. For example, they can hear the testimony of a 21-year-old Spaniard who suffered three episodes of cerebral apoplexy and lost his hearing: "I saw people running around. It was like a dance of sleepwalkers."

I know which way of dealing with terrorism makes me feel more confident that justice is being done.

Via Spiegel.

Posted by Magpie at May 8, 2007 10:59 AM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

Bush sec advisors leaving in droves

Posted by: ccokz at May 8, 2007 01:48 PM

That's a remarkable and worthy effort by the Spanish.

Different countries have different laws on how a trial can be reported. English law is still very restrictive on cameras in and around courts, and a lot of the reporting of US trials that I've seen seems to be lawyers grandstanding.

I'm wary of what editing might lead to. The US Government's attitude could be described as extreme editing.

Posted by: Dave Bell at May 12, 2007 02:36 AM