Political blame game over train bomb verdicts

2nd November 2007, Comments 0 comments

2 November 2007, MADRID - (AFP) - Spain's ruling Socialists demanded Thursday that the opposition admit it was wrong to blame Basque militants for the 2004 Madrid train bombings, one day after a court convicted 21 mostly North African men for carrying out the attacks.

2 November 2007

MADRID - (AFP) - Spain's ruling Socialists demanded Thursday that the opposition admit it was wrong to blame Basque militants for the 2004 Madrid train bombings, one day after a court convicted 21 mostly North African men for carrying out the attacks.

Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez categorically ruled out any involvement by the armed Basque separatist group ETA and agreed with the prosecution which had argued the bombings that killed 191 people were the work of Islamists.

The conservative Popular Party in power when the bombs tore through four commuter trains on 11 March, 2004 immediately blamed ETA for the attacks despite evidence pointing to Islamic radicals.

Some members of the party, now led my Mariano Rajoy, have continued to suggest that ETA, which has killed over 800 people during almost four decades of fighting for Basque independence, played a role in the train bombings.

"I ask Rajoy to repeat after me: 'It was not ETA'," Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters.

"That he repeat after me and the police and the courts: 'It was not ETA'. And that after that, we work to ensure that what happened to us does not happen again," he added.

The bombings took place just three days before Spain went to the polls in a general election.

The Socialists scored a surprise victory in the polls, in large part because voters perceived that the Popular Party of then prime minister Jose Maria Aznar had covered up evidence of links to Islamists.

New Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero promptly fulfilled a campaign promise to withdraw Spain's roughly 1,300 troops from Iraq.

Spain will hold a general election in March 2008.

A total of 29 people were put on trial for the bombings but the court acquitted seven and dropped charges during the proceedings against another.

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Subject: Spanish news

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