4 Cleared in Madrid Train Bombing

Of the 21 people arrested on charges relating to the Madrid train bombings in 2004, four people have now been acquitted, which overturns a 2007 Spanish court ruling that had found three of the men guilty.

A Spanish court on Thursday cleared four of the 21 people charged for crimes related to the 2004 Madrid train bombings, Europe’s deadliest Islamist attack.

The court overturned an October 31, 2007 ruling, which found three of the men guilty of being members of the radical Islamist cell that carried out the March 11 bombings that killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800.

A fourth man was cleared of trafficking explosives.

The most contentious acquittal is of the bombing’s alleged mastermind, Rabei Osman:

Spain’s highest court absolved four men and upheld the acquittal of a fifth on Thursday in the convoluted legal proceedings relating to the 2004 Madrid commuter train bombings that killed 191 people in the deadliest attack by Islamic militants on European soil.

The rulings followed appeals of some of 21 convictions by a lower court after a five-month trial that ended in October. Seven other people were acquitted.

Most dramatically, the high court upheld the acquittal of one of the bombing’s accused masterminds, Rabei Osman, an Egyptian, who was found guilty in 2006 in Italy of belonging to a terrorist organization.

Mr. Osman was arrested in Italy in June 2004, but disputed prosecution evidence citing wiretaps in which he was purported to have said he had conceived the idea of the attacks.

With the bulk of the convictions upheld and few channels of appeal left available to those sentenced, some survivors said they saw Thursday’s decisions as moving toward the closure one of the most painful episodes in Spain’s modern history.

More information on the October 2007 ruling, part of which has now been overturned:

On October 31 last year, a Spanish court found 21 people guilty of involvement in the attack but cleared three men of masterminding it and acquitted seven others.

Many victims were shocked by the sentences, which in many cases were much lower than the state attorney had requested, and expressed anger at the acquittals.

Three men, two Moroccans and a Spaniard who provided the bombers with explosives, were handed down sentences which may keep them in prison for 40 years, the maximum in Spanish law.

Ten backpack bombs ripped through four packed trains carrying early-morning commuters in the Spanish capital on March 11, 2004.

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