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Madrid train bombings trial begins

[JURIST] The trial of 29 people suspected of involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings [JURIST news archive] that killed 191 people began Thursday in the National Court of Spain. The defendants [BBC backgrounder], mostly of Moroccan descent, are charged with 192 counts of murder and upwards of 1,800 counts of attempted murder related to the March 11, 2004 bombings, which prosecutors say were motivated by al-Qaeda's demand that Spain be punished for supporting the Iraq war. Only seven are charged with murder and belonging to a terrorist organization, while charges for the other 22 include collaborating with a terrorist group and handling explosives. The first suspect to testify was Rabei Osman el Sayed [CBC profile], who was convicted in Italy [JURIST report] for belonging to a terrorist group and was extradited to Spain for the Spanish trial. Prosecutors allege that Osman, also known as "Mohamed the Egyptian," masterminded the attacks and recruited others to help. Reuters has more. Bloomberg has additional coverage.

Spanish prosecutors in November promised to seek consecutive life sentences [JURIST report] for the suspects that will extend well beyond their lifetimes. Spanish law requires prosecutors to request jail terms amounting to thousands of years because Spain does not allow life sentences without the possibility of parole.

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