Thursday, November 01, 2007
Reflections in Madrid
Thursday November 1st is a national holiday in Spain, All Saints Day, to be precise. The city is quiet, even the politicians. It’s a great day for sober second thought in Spain and people here surely need it. The Madrid bombing verdicts were decidedly mixed, but as we searched out the survivors and the families of those who were killed, the interviews weren’t about loud outrage, but quiet frustration. I remember the first day of the trial and the mood couldn’t have been more different. Six months ago, families were still expecting and demanding answers, now they’re resigned. As a journalist it was much easier to illicit comment from survivors and families when the trial still held such promise.
A lot of the expectation for this trial rested on the shoulders of prosecutor Olga Sanchez. I just couldn’t believe it when shortly after the verdict I saw her march out of the courthouse and head straight for a makeshift Spanish TV studio just outside the front steps. We all settled in, watched the interview and waited to pounce as she took her microphone off and walked towards us. I was shocked; an interview was no problem she said. Her reaction and interview were completely disarming. She seemed to be content with the verdicts and relieved it was over. She cautioned that as disappointed as the survivors and victims’ families might me, this was a legal victory. She confidently, resolutely told me this was a legal landmark because as least three defendants were convicted of direct involvement in mass murder.
So we return to the day of rest here. We journalists would love to attend an early morning press conference, as if those ever happen in Spain anyway. But they definitely won’t be happening today. This is a day of bright sunshine, autumn strolls, long café conversations and above all quiet reflection. I sensed the families were relieved the verdict would come the day before this holiday, All Saints Day. As is custom, many of the victims’ families will go to their loved ones’ graves today. This will be a slow, sobering day best suited to truly digest these verdicts and what they achieved or didn’t achieve without the clamour from politicians and journalists.
-- From Paula Newton, CNN International Security Correspondent, in Madrid
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