madrid train bomb 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Four lead defendants in the 2004 Madrid train bombings were convicted of murder and other charges Wednesday, but another accused ringleader was acquitted in the culmination of a politically divisive trial over Europe's worst Islamic terror attack.
Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez read out the verdicts in a hushed courtroom, with heavy security, including bomb-sniffing dogs and police helicopters, outside. The backpack bomb attacks killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800 on March 11, 2004.
Twenty-eight people were charged in the attacks.
The four lead suspects were each handed sentences that stretched into the thousands of years, but Rabei Osman, an Egyptian accused of helping orchestrate the attacks, was acquitted. Osman, who is currently in jail in Italy, had allegedly bragged in a wiretapped phone conversation that the massacre was his idea.
Seven other lesser suspects were also acquitted on all charges. Fourteen other people were found guilty of lesser charges like belonging to a terrorist group.
Most of the suspects are young Muslim men of North African origin who allegedly acted out of allegiance to al-Qaida to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, although Spanish investigators say they did so without a direct order or financing from Osama bin Laden's terror network.
The defendants - whose five-month trial ended in July - also include nine Spaniards, including one woman, charged with supplying stolen dynamite used in the string of rapid-fire explosions.