MADRID, Spain (AP) – Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the acquittal of a top suspect in the 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, rejecting an appeal by prosecutors on the grounds he has already been convicted of the same crime in Italy, an official said.
Rabei Osman, an Egyptian, was one of three alleged masterminds cleared of mass murder in the bombings at a trial in Madrid in October.
The court ruled that because Osman had already been sentenced to eight years in prison in Italy, he could not be condemned again for the same crime, a court official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of departmental rules.
Spanish prosecutors had argued unsuccessfully that Osman was appealing his Italian sentence, leaving the door open for his trial here.
In Spain, both prosecutors and defendants can appeal lower court decisions.
The bombings on March 11, 2004, killed 191 people and injured more than 1,800 and were Europe’s worst Islamic terror attack.
Twenty-one people, including three masterminds, were convicted during the five-month trial that ended in October. Seven others, including Osman, were acquitted.
Osman was arrested in Italy in June 2004 after allegedly saying in wiretapped conversations that the attacks were his idea. He repeatedly has denied it was his voice in the calls, and his Spanish defense lawyers also questioned the translation of the call used in the Italian court.