Al-Qaeda trial date to be set
16 June 2004
MADRID – A trial date was being prepared against a cell of al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Spain, it was reported Wednesday.
The move came after Judge Baltasar Garzon announced he had concluded the investigative phase of proceedings and sent the files to a high court so a trial date can be set.
Judge Baltasar Garzon is the investigating magistrate in the case involving al-Qaeda activity in Spain.
Garzon ordered that the case’s extensive files be sent to the high court known as the Audiencia Nacional in preparation for the trial of Osama Bin Laden and 40 others.
Besides Bin Laden, Garzon indicted Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias “Abu Dahdah,” the suspected head of the Spanish al Qaeda cell that was dismantled following the 11 September attacks against the United States.
Garzon said suspects used Spain as a base to prepare the attacks on the US as well as to provide support and funding for al-Qaeda.
There was no immediate indication as to when a trial might begin.
Garzon indicted the suspects, of which a dozen are currently imprisoned in Spain, for terrorist murder in each of the deaths and injuries caused by the hijackers who commandeered four airliners, crashing three of them into New York’s World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, respectively.
The fourth plane went down in Pennsylvania amid a struggle between the terrorists and passengers.
Garzon also charged Bin Laden, who along with others would be tried in absentia, and the remaining defendants with belonging to or colluding with a terrorist organisation, document forgery and illegal possession of weapons, among other charges.
On 19 May, Garzon remanded in prison without bail four suspects arrested for alleged ties to an al Qaeda-linked Islamic militant group, and asked Britain to pass on its suspected leader.
Those jailed in May were three Algerians and one Spaniard, all arrested for suspected connection to the Ansar al Islam group.
Garzon has asked Britain to turn over Heidi Ben Youssef Boudhiba, the suspected leader of Ansar Al Islam who is currently behind bars in that country.
According to Garzon’s ruling, members of this al Qaeda support group were assigned the task of “contributing to financing, securing, executing and facilitating false documentation for other members of the structure.”
In April, a US federal prosecutor and several FBI agents questioned an Algerian in Spanish custody suspected of belonging to the same German-based al Qaeda cell as Mohammed Atta, leader of the cell that carried out the 11 September attacks.
Authorities say some of the documents forged by the accused may have been used to carry out the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.
Syrian national Muhammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi was indicted for allegedly providing financing to men linked to Bin Laden and his terrorist group.
Kalaje, a.k.a. “Abu Talha,” was arrested in November 2001 during the so-called “Operation Date” to dismantle a suspected al Qaeda cell in Spain, but he was released after being questioned by Garzon. The judge ordered him to be re-arrested in April 2002.
According to Garzon’s indictment, between 1996 and 2001, Kalaje sent some USD 855,000 from Spain to organizations and people linked to al-Qaeda in a number of countries.
Garzon is one of several magistrates appointed to investigate the terrorist activities of ETA, the Basque separatist group. He also investigated rights violations committed by several Latin American dictatorships, including those in Argentina and Chile.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news