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14 July 2024

Morocco trial for Madrid train bombs suspect: Spanish judge

By Agencies

A Moroccan suspected of links to the Madrid train bomb attacks of March 2004 has been arrested and will face trial in Rabat, a Spanish magistrate said on Monday.


"Based on information [Spain] handed over on January 9, Moroccan anti-terrorist prosecutors issued a warrant and police arrested Abdelilah Ahriz on Saturday," said Angel Llorente.


A National Court spokeswoman told The Associated Press that judicial officials in Morocco have responded positively to a new legal mechanism between the two countries called Official Accusation, which enables Moroccan courts to try suspects on charges drawn up by Spanish courts. She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with government rules.


This is the first time Morocco and Spain - who do not share an extradition treaty - have collaborated in the capture and trial of terror suspects, the spokeswoman said.


Anti-terror specialist National Court judge Baltasar Garzon confirmed the nature of the case.


“Morocco does not normally hand over its nationals and in order to be able to try him a judge here has transferred the legal process there,” Garzon said on Monday evening in an interview broadcast by Spanish language news channel CNN+.


Ahriz was interviewed in mid-December by Juan del Olmo, the Spanish judge investigating the rush-hour attacks on three train stations that killed 191 people and left another 1,811 injured.


Ahriz, 29, had been jailed for three years in February 2007, before winning his acquittal on appeal several months later.


Spanish forensics experts will enter evidence alleging that Ahriz's DNA is identical to fingerprint traces found at sites strongly linked to the attacks.


A Moroccan court source confirmed that Ahriz was arrested in Casablanca. Another suspect, Hicham Ahmidan, will also figure in the trial, Llorente added. (AFP/AP)