Spain braces itself for Madrid train bombing trial
14 February 2007, MADRID - Spain was braced on Wednesday for the start of the trial of Islamic radicals and Spaniards accused of involvement in the Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people.
14 February 2007
MADRID - Spain was braced on Wednesday for the start of the trial of Islamic radicals and Spaniards accused of involvement in the Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people.
The rush-hour bombings on 11 March, 2004 shocked Spain, leading to an abrupt change of government and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.
Twenty-nine accused will face months of interrogation in a high security courthouse in Madrid starting on Thursday.
Twenty Arab men, mostly Moroccans, are accused of providing drugs to pay for explosives, helping suspects escape and preparing the bombs that blew apart four commuter trains.
Almost 2,000 people were injured in one of the most shocking terrorist atrocities in Europe.
Nine Spaniards are charged with supplying and delivering explosives to the Islamist cell.
An Egyptian, Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, was sentenced for 10 years' by an Italian court last year for his role in the bombings.
He will stand trial in Madrid, accused of being one of the masterminds.
However, there are 11 major suspects who will not be on trial before the three-judge panel.
Seven died when they blew themselves up in a flat weeks after the bombings.Another is believed to have been killed in Iraq and three more are still at large.
The attacks were allegedly the work of an extremist Islamic cell with links to Al-Qaeda which wanted to force Spain out of Iraq.
Three days after the bombs, Spain voted out the then conservative government which had backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Weeks later the new socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ordered the troops home, angering George W Bush.
The Islamic radicals allegedly financed the plan by selling hashish and ecstasy pills.
They then contacted former miners in northern Spain to buy the dynamite.
More than 600 witnesses and 100 forensic investigators have been called to give evidence in the trial, which will be broadcast live on television and the Internet.
After the hearings, the judges are expected to take until at least October to consider their verdicts and sentencing.
The state prosecutor has requested sentences totalling 270,600 years for the seven main defendants, but under Spanish law the maximum term any individual can serve is 40 years.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news