Madrid bombers get long sentences

 Defendants in the Madrid trial. 3110
All the accused pleaded "not guilty" during the four-month trial

A Spanish court has sentenced three men to thousands of years in jail for their part in the Madrid bombings in 2004.

Moroccans Jamal Zougam and Otman el Ghanoui and Spaniard Emilio Trashorras were convicted of murder, but suspected mastermind Rabei Osman was acquitted.


Twenty-one - out of 28 on trial - were convicted and seven acquitted over the blasts on four trains that killed 191 and injured more than 1,800.

Victims' families said the accused had got off lightly.

All had pleaded not guilty to involvement in the Islamist attacks during the four-month trial.

Abuse hurled

Arriving amid heavy security to hear the result, relatives of the victims hurled abuse at the accused men, but a hush fell over the courtroom as the judge read out the verdicts.

Pilar Manjon, the president of a victims association, speaks after the verdicts
We are going to appeal against this mistake. I don't like to see killers walking free
Pilar Manjon
Victims' spokesperson

The announcement was broadcast live on Spanish television.

The defendants, 27 men and one woman, 19 mostly Moroccan Arabs and nine Spaniards, had faced charges including murder, forgery and conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack.

Ex-miner Trashorras - who supplied the explosives - Zougam and Ghanoui were found guilty of murder, and sentenced to up to 43,000 years in jail each.

The jail terms are largely symbolic as under Spanish law the maximum term that can be served is 40 years.

Of the nine Spaniards on trial, six were acquitted.


Victims' groups were furious at the acquittals and perceived leniency of some of the sentences.

Alleged mastermind Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, known as "Mohamed the Egyptian", was found not guilty but is in prison in Italy after being convicted of belonging to an international terrorist group.

Bombs killed 191 people, injured 1,841
Ten backpacks filled with dynamite and nails blew up on four packed commuter trains
Twenty-eight on trial - 19 Arabs, mostly Moroccans, and nine Spaniards
Seven top suspects blew themselves up during police raid in April 2004
Prosecutors believe bombings were an Islamist plot
All defendants pleaded innocent

Isabel Presa, who lost her youngest son in one of the blasts, said: "It has destroyed my life, it has condemned me and my husband to a life sentence, and these people get off scot-free."

The president of a victims' association, Pilar Manjon, who lost her 20-year-old son in the attacks, said: "We are going to appeal against this mistake. I don't like to see killers walking free."

But Spain's PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said "justice was done".

Security forces were on alert across Spain as the court in Madrid began delivering its verdict at 1130 (1030 GMT) on Wednesday.


In his summary, Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez said that all, if not almost all, the explosives used came from one source - a Spanish mine.

Compensation for victims ranging from 30,000 euros (£21,000) to 1.5m euros (£1.04m) was announced.

Analysts say the attacks changed the course of Spanish politics because in an election three days later voters ditched a conservative government that at first blamed the bombs on the Spanish separatist group Eta.

Spanish investigators say the accused were part of a local Islamist militant group inspired by al-Qaeda, but had no direct links to the terror organisation.

They had acted to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, said investigators.

Seven suspected ringleaders died in a suicide blast in a Madrid apartment three weeks after the attacks.

There were originally 29 people on trial but charges were later dropped against one defendant for lack of evidence.

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