Spanish court clears four in Madrid bombing case

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The Supreme Court acquitted four people charged with crimes related to the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

18 July 2008

MADRID - The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared four people charged with crimes related to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and upheld the High Court's decision to acquit Rabei Osman El Sayed.

El Sayed is an Egyptian national whose prosecutors had claimed was one of the ringleaders behind the massacre.

The Supreme Court's ruling amends several of the 21 sentences handed down by the High Court in October in 2007 following a more than three-year investigation into the attacks by Islamist extremists that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 aboard four Madrid commuter trains on 11 March 2004.

The most striking change is the acquittal on appeal of Basel Ghalyoun, Mouhannad Almallah Dabas and Abdelilah Fadual El Akil who the High Court had sentenced to between nine and 12 years in prison for belonging to a terrorist group.

A Spaniard, Raúl González, was acquitted of helping to supply the explosives used in the bombings, although another suspected explosives trafficker, Antonio Toro, was given a four-year sentence, reversing the High Court's decision to clear him of all charges.

The Supreme Court's decision means 17 people - not 21 as originally decided by the High Court - will serve time behind bars for the terrorist massacre.

Among them are two of the people who helped plant the bag bombs on the trains - Moroccan nationals Jamal Zougam and Otman El Gnaoui - and José Emilio Suárez Trashorras, a former miner who supplied the explosives.

All three were handed sentences of around 40,000 years that could see them serve a total of 40 in prison - the maximum possible under Spanish law.

Although prosecutors had claimed that Osman El Sayed had planned the attacks based on claims he made in a telephone conversation recorded by Italian police, the real ringleaders behind the massacre, judges concluded, were among seven extremists who blew themselves up in a Madrid apartment after finding themselves surrounded by police three weeks after the bombings.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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