Security tight as Madrid bombing verdicts imminent

31st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 October 2007, MADRID - (AFP) - Spain's anti-terrorist court met Wednesday amid tight security to announce verdicts against 28 suspects in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed almost 200 people and were claimed in the name of Al-Qaeda.

31 October 2007

MADRID - (AFP) - Spain's anti-terrorist court met Wednesday amid tight security to announce verdicts against 28 suspects in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed almost 200 people and were claimed in the name of Al-Qaeda.

The early morning bombings on four packed commuter trains were the deadliest terror attacks in the West since the September 11, 2001 strikes against the United States.

The three judges met at 8:10am (0910 GMT) and handed a copy of the verdicts to the president of the National Audience -- Spain's top court for investigating and judging terrorism cases.

After three months of deliberations, chief Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez is to read the verdicts and sentences at around 11:00 am (1000 GMT). The announcements will be carried live on Spanish television.

Dozens of armed police with bullet-proof vests surrounded the court, located at the entrance to a park in the west of the capital, as a helicopter hovered overhead.

An armoured car with a machine gun was also parked outside the building, where journalists and television broadcast vehicles had been stationed since early in the morning.

A string of 10 bombs exploded on commuter trains on March 11, 2004, leaving bodies and limbs scattered on railway tracks. A total of 191 people from 13 countries were killed and 1,841 others injured.

Prosecutors have called for the 28 defendants to be sentenced to a cumulative total of 311,865 years in prison although under Spanish law the longest jail term anyone can actually serve for terrorist crimes is 40 years.

Lawyers for the accused have five days to appeal the sentences to the Supreme Court.

During the four-month trial which wrapped up on July 2, all of the accused -- 19 mostly Moroccan Arabs living in Spain and nine Spaniards charged with providing the explosives used in the bombings -- said they were innocent. The defendants also denied having any link to radical Islam or Al-Qaeda.

The conservative government at the time initially blamed the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

But evidence quickly began to point to Islamic radicals angered over Madrid's decision to send troops to back the US-led war in Iraq.

Spain had been threatened with reprisals by Al-Qaeda because of its involvement in Iraq, in a message signed by the leader of the terror network, Osama bin Laden, and released on October 18, 2003.

Two days after the attacks, the Spanish government announced the discovery near a Madrid mosque of a videotape in Arabic claiming the attacks on behalf of "Al-Qaeda's military spokesman in Europe."

The opposition Socialists scored a surprise victory in a general election on March 14, aided by the perception that the ruling Popular Party had tried to cover up evidence that Islamic radicals were behind the bombings.

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

Seven prime suspects blew themselves up three weeks after the attacks in an apartment block when they found themselves surrounded by police. One policeman was killed in the blast.

Police were able to trace the SIM card of a mobile phone that was attached to one of the train bombs that did not explode to a shop run by one of the defendants, Moroccan national Jamal Zougam.

Zougam was one of the first suspects to be arrested and he is one of the trial's five main accused.

He and fellow Moroccan Abdelmajid Bouchar were seen by witnesses leaving backpacks on the trains which are thought to have contained bombs.

The three other key defendants -- Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, Youssef Belhadj, and Hassan Al-Haski -- are accused of masterminding the bombings.

[Copyright Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

31 October 2007

MADRID - (AFP) - Spain's anti-terrorist court met Wednesday amid tight security to announce verdicts against 28 suspects in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed almost 200 people and were claimed in the name of Al-Qaeda.

The early morning bombings on four packed commuter trains were the deadliest terror attacks in the West since the September 11, 2001 strikes against the United States.

The three judges met at 8:10am (0910 GMT) and handed a copy of the verdicts to the president of the National Audience -- Spain's top court for investigating and judging terrorism cases.

After three months of deliberations, chief Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez is to read the verdicts and sentences at around 11:00 am (1000 GMT). The announcements will be carried live on Spanish television.

Dozens of armed police with bullet-proof vests surrounded the court, located at the entrance to a park in the west of the capital, as a helicopter hovered overhead.

An armoured car with a machine gun was also parked outside the building, where journalists and television broadcast vehicles had been stationed since early in the morning.

A string of 10 bombs exploded on commuter trains on March 11, 2004, leaving bodies and limbs scattered on railway tracks. A total of 191 people from 13 countries were killed and 1,841 others injured.

Prosecutors have called for the 28 defendants to be sentenced to a cumulative total of 311,865 years in prison although under Spanish law the longest jail term anyone can actually serve for terrorist crimes is 40 years.

Lawyers for the accused have five days to appeal the sentences to the Supreme Court.

During the four-month trial which wrapped up on July 2, all of the accused -- 19 mostly Moroccan Arabs living in Spain and nine Spaniards charged with providing the explosives used in the bombings -- said they were innocent. The defendants also denied having any link to radical Islam or Al-Qaeda.

The conservative government at the time initially blamed the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

But evidence quickly began to point to Islamic radicals angered over Madrid's decision to send troops to back the US-led war in Iraq.

Spain had been threatened with reprisals by Al-Qaeda because of its involvement in Iraq, in a message signed by the leader of the terror network, Osama bin Laden, and released on October 18, 2003.

Two days after the attacks, the Spanish government announced the discovery near a Madrid mosque of a videotape in Arabic claiming the attacks on behalf of "Al-Qaeda's military spokesman in Europe."

The opposition Socialists scored a surprise victory in a general election on March 14, aided by the perception that the ruling Popular Party had tried to cover up evidence that Islamic radicals were behind the bombings.

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

Seven prime suspects blew themselves up three weeks after the attacks in an apartment block when they found themselves surrounded by police. One policeman was killed in the blast.

Police were able to trace the SIM card of a mobile phone that was attached to one of the train bombs that did not explode to a shop run by one of the defendants, Moroccan national Jamal Zougam.

Zougam was one of the first suspects to be arrested and he is one of the trial's five main accused.

He and fellow Moroccan Abdelmajid Bouchar were seen by witnesses leaving backpacks on the trains which are thought to have contained bombs.

The three other key defendants -- Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, Youssef Belhadj, and Hassan Al-Haski -- are accused of masterminding the bombings.

[Copyright Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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