Suspects convicted of role in bombing attacks
16 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Brussels Court convicted on Thursday six men on charges they were members of an Islamic group linked to the terror attacks in Madrid and Casablanca.
16 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Brussels Court convicted on Thursday six men on charges they were members of an Islamic group linked to the terror attacks in Madrid and Casablanca.
The two main suspects were sentenced to seven-year jail terms, while the four other convicted men were sentenced to five or six years jail.
The jail terms were less severe than what the prosecution requested, but the judge said it was clear the suspects were members of a dangerous terrorist organisation.
They were members of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), held responsible for the train bombings in Madrid in March 2004 and the Casablanca bombings in May 2003. Some 236 people were killed in the attacks.
In its ruling, the court said the main suspects, Abdelkader Hakimi, Lahoussine El Haski and Mostafa Louanani, were the leaders of a Belgian GICM cell.
All three suspects were Belgian nationals of Moroccan origin.
Hakimi has been in Afghanistan and Bosnia and — according to the court — brought the GICM cell together. The cell was based in the Flemish town of Maaseik.
El Haski was also in Afghanistan. The court said he was the theologist and raised funds for the GICM. The prosecution had demanded 10 years jail against him and Hakimi.
Lounani played a central role in sending Jihad recruits to Iraq. The public prosecutor had demanded an eight-year jail term against him, but he was instead sentenced to six years jail.
The suspects were accused of delivering false passports and giving shelter to terrorists. A fingerprint of one of the Madrid bombers was found in a Brussels apartment.
The trial was considered a test of Belgium's tough new anti-terror laws, which allow a 10-year jail term on anyone convicted of helping co-ordinate terrorists.
In total, 13 men were placed on trial in November 2005. All of them were arrested between March and July 2004. The suspects had been under surveillance for some time.
However, the defence has said the only evidence against some of the accused is that they knew men charged with serious offences.
The defence demanded acquittals on the terrorism charges, stressing that weapons or plans for an attack were never seized. However, they conceded guilt on less serious charges, such as using forged documents.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news