Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Appeals Against The Sentence

In between the hearings and the verdict of the boric acid case, the Supreme Court in Spain heard all of the appeals concerning the sentence in the main trial for the Madrid train bombings. The outcome of those appeals has been announced this morning and contains some significant rulings for several of the accused. In the Spanish legal system an appeal cannot be lodged to re-examine the evidence presented in the original trial. Instead the appeal is focused on the correctness of the sentence for the crime, or on other legal technicalities.

The state prosecution service did not support most of the appeals presented, and the case they presented to the Supreme Court was mostly one of support for the sentence delivered at the end of October 2007. An important exception to this was the appeal against the absolution of Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed (known as El Egipcio). This person escaped a sentence last year for membership of a terrorist group on the grounds that he had already been sentenced for the same offence in Italy. The prosecution appealed this verdict on the basis that the sentence in Italy had not yet been confirmed, and also alleging that the basis for the Italian conviction was not the same as that presented by Spanish prosecutors. The court today has rejected this appeal, so El Egipcio has in the end not been convicted of any offence in Spain.

The Supreme Court has also decided to free some of those convicted in the original trial for offences related to terrorism. Basel Ghalyoun, Mouhannad Almallah Dabas, Abdelilah el Fadoual el Akil and Raúl González have all been absolved in today’s hearing. None of these were accused of being direct material participants in the bombings; González in particular was a bit player in the trafficking of the explosives used in the bombs. However, the freeing of Ghalyoun and Almallah Dabas is something of a blow to the case presented concerning the use of the dwelling in the Madrid street of Virgen del Coro as a centre for Islamist propaganda and recruitment.

The only person to come out worse from the appeals process is Antonio Toro, who was found not guilty in the original trial, along with his sister Carmen. Both were accused of being active participants in the plot to sell the dynamite used in the train bombings. The Supreme Court has found Antonio Toro guilty of explosives trafficking and sentenced him to four years imprisonment. There has been no change to the sentence for Rafa Zouhier, his defence claimed it was illogical for him to be sentenced whilst people like Toro were found not guilty. Those who appealed for a higher sentence for him argued the opposite case that he was a key figure in the trafficking and supply of the explosives.

Other minor changes include a reduction of two years for Otman el Gnaoui, who nevertheless faces a long time in prison as he was convicted of being one of those who placed the bombs. Hassan el Haski has had his sentence reduced by one year on the grounds that it exceeded the maximum for the offence on which he was convicted. Apart from these changes the great majority of the appeals lodged have been rejected by the court. So far I haven’t seen the sentence, when I have a chance to study it I hope to flesh out some of the details behind the court’s decisions. Although these hearings are the end of the process against most of those accused of the bombings, there is still some unfinished business including the trial of Moutaz Almallah Dabas, whose brother Mouhannad was set free today.

El País - El Supremo confirma la absolución de El Egipcio por la matanza del 11-M
Público - El Supremo confirma la absolución de 'El Egipcio' en el juicio por los atentados del 11-M

No comments: