Terrorists linked to Madrid bombings are jailed
17 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Two leaders of a Moroccan terrorist cell linked to the Madrid train bombings were sentenced Thursday by a Belgian court to seven years in prison.
17 February 2006
BRUSSELS — Two leaders of a Moroccan terrorist cell linked to the Madrid train bombings were sentenced Thursday by a Belgian court to seven years in prison.
The verdicts came at the trial in Brussels of 13 Belgium-based members of Morocco's militant GICM Islamist group, several of whom maintained contact with some of those involved in the 11 March attack in Spain, which left 191 dead.
Receiving the seven-year terms were Abdelkader Hakimi, a mujahideen who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia; and Lahoussine el Haski, brother of Hassan El Haski, who is now behind bars in Spain for allegedly being Al Qaeda's spokesman in Europe.
A third leader of the cell, Mustafa Lounani, was sentenced to six years.
Those three were found guilty of directing a terrorist entity and of having provided logistical support to other elements of the GICM, which appears on the European Union's list of terrorist organizations.
The Belgian contingent was described by the court as a GICM "sleeper cell" that was designed "to be rapidly activated" when the Moroccan group's leadership deemed it necessary.
Of the 10 remaining defendants, six were given sentences ranging from three years probation to five years behind bars and two were acquitted, while the court did not render verdicts on the other two.
Mourad Chabarou, a 25-year-old Moroccan sentenced to five years in jail, was found to have been in contact with Rabei Osman El Sayed, a reputed mastermind of the Madrid bombings, as well as with one of the perpetrators of the massacre in the Spanish capital.
It took more than eight hours for the judges to deliver the 300-page verdict in the heavily guarded courtroom.
The trial was the first held under Belgium's anti-terrorism law, which attorneys defending the GICM members criticized as too vague.
The law created harsher penalties and broadened the definition of terrorist offences.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news