Saturday, October 25, 2008

El Egipcio Loses His Italian Appeal

The beginning of October saw a development which has an impact on the trial for the Madrid bombings. Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed (nicknamed El Egipcio) had his sentence for membership of a terrorist group confirmed by the Italian courts. Although many people believe that El Egipcio was completely absolved in the trial held in Madrid, it’s important to point out that his Italian conviction was the reason why no sentence at all was delivered against him in Spain. He was found not guilty in Madrid of the charges of inducing others to commit terrorist acts, and the court decided that they could not sentence him for membership of a terrorist group because the Italians had already done so. In the appeals process following the main trial it was argued that the charge against El Egipcio in Spain was not exactly the same as that in the Italian case and that the Italian verdict was not a firm one, leaving open the possibility of him escaping conviction there too. These arguments were not accepted by the Spanish appeals court, who ruled that the Italian sentence precluded any possibility of finding El Egipcio guilty on a similar charge. The main evidence against him in the Spanish trial was that gathered by Italian police using electronic surveillance.