Verdicts due for deadly Madrid train bombs
(Reuters) A Spanish court will this week deliver verdicts in the trial of 28 men charged in connection with the deadliest attack ever linked to al Qaeda in Europe, the Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people on March 11, 2004.
The court will also issue sentences when it announces its verdicts on Wednesday, in front of the bullet-proof box which held the accused, mostly Moroccans but also including nine Spaniards, during over four months of trial earlier this year.
Six of the men could be given up to 38,000 years in prison for the 10 near-simultaneous bombings on four trains taking morning commuters into Madrid, although in practice they cannot serve more than 40 years.
A shining glass monument inscribed with names of the dead, many poor migrants from Romania and Latin America, now stands by Madrid's Atocha train station, whose tracks were littered with body parts on that cool, sunny morning.
The attacks convulsed Spanish politics, causing a surprise defeat in elections three days later for the then conservative government which had led Spain into the unpopular war in Iraq, and tried to blame the attacks on Basque separatists.
But the trial demonstrated Islamist attacks had been coming whether Spain sent troops to Iraq or not, according to Fernando Reinares, from Madrid's Real Elcano thinktank.
"The context of the war in Iraq favoured attacks, but the decision to attack Spain had been taken earlier," Reinares said.
He pointed to a "colossal failure" by Spain's intelligence services, who had been monitoring several of the men now awaiting verdicts.