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Spanish PM Attacks 'Bomb Lies'

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Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has told a parliamentary commission into the Madrid bombings that his conscience is clear.

One hundred and ninety-one people died and more than 1,800 were injured when four packed commuter trains were bombed on 11 March this year.

Mr Aznar has been accused of misleading the country about the attacks in a failed bid for re-election.

But he said it was others who had sought to gain political advantage.

Mr Aznar's conservative Popular Party (PP) lost the general election to the Socialists three days after the attacks, which many Spaniards believe were carried out in retaliation for Spain's support of the US-led war in Iraq.

The former prime minister has been criticised for being too quick to blame the attack on the armed Basque separatist group Eta instead of Islamic extremists.

But Mr Aznar said that the Socialist leader and current Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had told him by telephone on the day of the attacks that "it made no difference to him whether it was Eta or al-Qaeda".

'Great lie'

Mr Aznar began his 40-minute appearance by remembering the victims of the attack, saying his government's security forces acted quickly and efficiently in the aftermath of the bombings.

He said it was unfair to accuse him of being eager to blame Eta, because others had come to that same conclusion first.

"We told the truth about what we knew," he said.

Mr Aznar accused "opposition parties and media known for their anti-PP obsession" of inventing "a great lie" in an attempt to discredit his government.

The BBC's Katya Adler in Madrid says the Socialist government had expected Mr Aznar's evidence to bring shame on his former administration.

But the PP disagreed, seeing Mr Aznar's testimony as a golden opportunity to prove that his government acted in good faith and put Spaniards' safety first, our correspondent adds.

A public protest outside the Spanish parliament coincided with Mr Aznar's appearance.

Its organisers said they were sickened by the Madrid bombings perpetually being used as a political football.


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Aznar is just a paranoid whit a little facist streak.

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