Police let Madrid train bombings mastermind escape

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Spanish police's failure to recognise the alleged mastermind of the March 2004 Madrid train bombings lead to his escape in 2004, says Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba.

MADRID – An alleged mastermind of the March 2004 Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people escaped arrest three months after the attacks because Spanish police failed to recognise him, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Monday.

"They did not recognise him, otherwise he would have been arrested," he told reporters, confirming a report published in daily newspaper El Mundo.

The paper published a black and white photo of Algerian-born Daoud Ouhnane on its front page showing him leaving a house in Santa Coloma de Gramanet that was taken from a police surveillance video made on 22 June 2004.

Police had the house in the Barcelona region under surveillance as it was thought to be used by Islamic radicals and at the time photos of Ouhnane had been widely distributed by the authorities.

Ouhnane was killed in Iraq in 2005 in a suicide attack after spending time in Turkey and Syria.

His fingerprints were found in the car that transported the bombs used in the early morning attack on commuter trains in the Spanish capital on 11 March 2004 and other places linked to the bombings, Spain's worst terrorist attack.

Responsibility for the bombings was claimed by Islamic militants who said they acted on behalf of al-Qaeda to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.

A Spanish court in October 2007 convicted 21 of the 28 defendants, mostly from north Africa, who stood trial in connection with the bombings. They were found guilty on charges ranging from weapons possession to mass murder.

In 2008, Spain's Supreme Court acquitted four of the 21 on appeal.

AFP / Expatica

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