Madrid train bombings trial reaching closing stages

2nd July 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 July 2007, MADRID - The trial of 28 people accused in the Madrid train bombings - Europe's biggest terrorist court case - wrapped up Monday with closing arguments by defense lawyers before the three-judge panel was to begin deliberations.

2 July 2007

MADRID - The trial of 28 people accused in the Madrid train bombings - Europe's biggest terrorist court case - wrapped up Monday with closing arguments by defense lawyers before the three-judge panel was to begin deliberations.

A verdict in the trial, which began in February at a high-security Madrid courthouse, is scheduled for mid-October.

Most of the defendants are Moroccans, and prosecutors blame the March 11, 2004, train bombings on Islamic terrorists. Nine Spaniards are also on trial, accused of providing stolen explosives that were used in the attacks.

The prosecution is seeking prison terms of nearly 39,000 years each for 8 prime suspects if convicted of mass murder of the 191 people who died in the attacks and the attempted murder of 1,841 people who were injured.

However, under Spanish law, the maximum time they could serve on a terrorism conviction is 40 years. Spain has no death penalty or life imprisonment.

Among the prime suspects, three are considered masterminds, two are alleged to have placed bombs aboard the trains, two are described as "necessary cooperators," and one, a Spaniard, an alleged supplier of the explosives.

The other defendants face far smaller sentences if convicted on lesser charges such as membership of or collaboration with a terrorist group.

The defense lawyer of Rabei Osman, an Egyptian accused of being a mastermind of the bombings, said he should be acquitted for lack of evidence.

"I ask you for a fair sentence, and in the case of Rabei Osman, a judgment of acquittal," said lawyer Endika Zulueta in his closing arguments.

Italian police arrested Osman in Milan, Italy, in June 2004. The main evidence against him was wiretapped conversations in which Osman allegedly tells an associate in Italy the attacks were his idea. He has repeatedly denied it was his voice in the calls.

Zulueta said Osman could not be convicted on the basis of what he called unprovable claims.

"I consider there is not sufficient evidence to condemn Rabei Osman," the lawyer said.

The lawyer for Moroccan Jamal Zougam, who allegedly placed some of the bombs, is expected to close the trial Monday.

Each of the defendants may then make a final statement, though none is expected to do so.

As evidence was introduced during the near five-month trial, one suspect, Moroccan-born Brahim Moussaten, was cleared of all charges and Moroccans Othman El Gnaoui and Rafa Zouhier, who had been relatively minor defendants, were upgraded to prime suspects.

In revising the charges, prosecutors also sharply reduced the mass-murder charges against prime suspect Syrian-born Basel Ghayloun. He is now charged with belonging to a terrorist group and faces 12 years in prison if convicted.

Each of the defendants has denied having anything to do with the attacks and condemned terrorism during the trial.

[Copright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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