Court convicts 21 of Madrid bombings
A Spanish court Wednesday convicted 21 people of involvement in the
2004 Madrid train bombings, but acquitted an Egyptian accused of helping
mastermind the Al Qaeda-inspired attack that claimed nearly 200 lives.
The early morning bombings on four packed commuter trains on March
11, 2004 were the deadliest terror attacks in the West since the
September 11, 2001 strikes against the United States.
The chief judge of the special anti-terrorist court, Javier Gomez
Bermudez, handed out the heaviest sentences to two Moroccans — Jamal
Zougam and Othman el-Gnaoui — and a Spaniard, Jose Emilio Suarez
They each received around 40,000 years in prison, although under
Spanish law the maximum they can spend behind bars is 40 years.
Zougam placed explosives aboard one of the four targeted trains,
while Trashorras and el-Gnaoui were condemned respectively for supplying
and transporting the explosives. One of the alleged organisers of the
attacks, Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, also known as “Mohammed the Egyptian”,
was acquitted on all charges.
He burst into tears and then kneeled to pray when the decision was
announced, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported from Milan, where he is
serving an eight-year prison sentence for belonging to a terrorist
“Acquitted, did you see?” the Egyptian said as police officers led
him back to his jail cell.
A total of 28 defendants were on trial — 19 mostly North Africans
Arabs living in Spain and nine Spaniards charged with providing the
explosives used in the bombings.
Ahmed was one of seven acquitted. The remaining 18 received sentences
of between three and 18 years for crimes ranging from the use of
explosives to membership in a terrorist group.
The judge sentenced the defendants to a total of 120,075 years in
prison, far less than the 311,865 years sought by the prosecution.