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S.Asians win reduced jails terms for planned Spain attack

Spain’s Supreme Court has reduced the sentences against 11 men of South Asian origin, most of them from Pakistan, who had planned an attack against the Barcelona metro, it said Tuesday.

The men had appealed against the sentences of eight to 14 years handed down by the National Court in December 2009.

The Supreme Court decided to cut the sentences because their planned attack was only at an “embryonic” stage, the ruling said.

One of the 11, Pakistan-born Maroof Ahmed Mirza, “the leader of the cell” saw his sentence cut from 10-and-a-half years to eight years. The jail terms of the other 10 were reduced to six years.

In convicting the men, the National Court had said they intended to “carry out a violent attack using explosives against the Barcelona metro, which could have caused many casualties.”

The charges were based on the declarations of an informant who was a member of the suspected Islamist cell and who then became a protected witness.

Ten of the men are of Pakistani origin and one is from India.

Spanish authorities have stepped up operations against Islamist radicals since the March 11, 2004 Al-Qaeda-inspired train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people and wounded 1,800 others in the country’s worst such attack.

Spanish police said last month they had arrested six Pakistanis and a Nigerian suspected of providing forged passports to organisations linked to Al-Qaeda, including the group accused of plotting the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.