UNM School of Law Student Witnesses Spanish Terrorism Case

Mary Apodaca

Second year student Mary Apodaca was one of five UNM School of Law students to attend the trial of an Al Qaeda member in Spain.

The trial was held at the Audencia Nacional in Madrid. The Audencia Nacional is a court that specifically handles only terrorism and high publicity drug trafficking cases, equivalent to what would be high-level felonies in the United States.

The charge against the defendant was incitement of terrorism, similar to what would be a conspiracy charge in the United States. The Spanish government had evidence that he was planning to poison the water of a tourist compound in Southern Spain and was conversing with other Al Qaeda members about his plans to get others help.

Previously this terrorist had been convicted for terrorism after his attempted assassination of the Algerian President, which resulted in the death of twenty-two civilians. He was in Moroccan prison and then released by the Moroccan police when he agreed to act as an informant for them and hack Al Qaeda internet chat rooms. Upon his release, he fled to Southern Spain.

Apodaca described the court process, "While the case itself was very interesting, the court process was equally as interesting. The defense attorney said very little throughout the entire trial. He did not sit next to his client, and the defense did not present any witnesses."

When asked about her experience Apodaca says, "It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience to be able to watch the prosecution of an Al Qaeda member, and also to do so in such a prestigious court of another country. It was definitely a highlight of the Madrid Law Program."

November 11, 2013