Spanish court sentences 20 to jail for Islamist terrorism
Spain's National Court on Wednesday handed 20 people prison sentences ranging from five to 14 years for links with Islamist terrorism, the court announced.27 February 2008
MADRID - Spain's National Court on Wednesday handed 20 people prison sentences ranging from five to 14 years for links with Islamist terrorism, the court announced.
Thirty people had been charged in the three-month trial. Ten of them, five of whom had already been released, were acquitted.
Eighteen people were found guilty of belonging to a terrorist organisation and two of collaborating with an armed group.
Algerian cell leader Mohammed Achraf, who was sentenced to 14 years, was found to have tried to obtain explosives in order to blow up the National Court with a truck loaded with 500 kg of explosives in 2004.
Achraf had not, however, shared his plans with the other accused, for which reason there was no basis for conspiracy charges, the court said. Prosecution had requested 43 years for Achraf.
Achraf created an extremist cell in the prison near Salamanca where he was serving a sentence, proselytising about the need to stage suicide bombings, the court said.
The cell wrote letters to inmates in other prisons, where more cells were established.
The network called itself Martyrs for Morocco.
Achraf and several of the others had protested their innocence at the end of the trial, condemning terrorism.
In October 2007, the National Court convicted 21 people of involvement in the Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people in March 2004.
Three of the convicts, who were found to have planted or helped to prepare the bombs, were handed jail terms of more than 30,000 years each.
[Copyright dpa 2008]