The first time I entered a Court House, I felt scared and lost. I had in my hand a piece of paper I couldn’t understand I had received the day before at my newsroom, ordering me to appear before a local court to collect a summons.
Maybe somebody had denounced me for something I had written, who knows. Anyway, it wasn’t a pleasant situation.
My boss told me to go with a lawyer he knew. So we agreed to meet on the first floor of the building where the court was.
It was an old dusty building. Everything and everybody seemed hostile. In a corner, two police officers custody a detainee waiting for a trial. Everybody seemed in a dark mood a stressed.
And suddenly, a cordial short man with spectacles told me with a warm smile:
-you must be that journalist. Let me see what you have.
I handed him the note, and when he read it, asked me almost laughing:
-This is a summon to the National Court in Madrid! What have you done?
My heart almost stopped. A national case! Only could be something related to terrorism. Two years before, I had covered as a reporter the disarticulation of a terrorist cell.
The lawyer went to ask what was all about and found out that I was right. The District Attorney had called me as a witness against the terrorists. I had witnessed the finding of a place ready for a kidnapped person and a considerable caché with weapons and bombs prepared to use. I could identify one of the members of the cell who had threatened me.
-You have to go- Told me the lawyer- they told me they would protect your identity during the trial.
Somehow I felt comforted by that man, and I decided to go to Madrid and take the stand.
It was terrible. The terrorists were following the trial from a cage made of armored glass. They were laughing at us all the time.
The tribunal had promised complete discretion about us. My name is foreign and difficult to pronounce for a Spaniard. The judge called me and asked me how to pronounce my name. He said it aloud at least four times. And after that, he tell everybody where was my address. Among the audience, there were family members and sympathizers of the terrorists from my city. I was outraged. Where was the promised anonymity?
It was a challenging experience.
Due to the peculiar Spanish penitentiary system, although that terrorist cell had been found guilty of more than 18 murders, they are all free now after serving 20 years. At least, now the group has put down the weapons, and there is no violence anymore.