The endresult of the spanish 9/11 trial.

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by mioque, Sep 27, 2005.

  1. mioque

    mioque
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    Spain verdict is partial success


    By Rob Watson
    BBC defence correspondent


    The Spanish "al-Qaeda" trial is one of the most significant anti-terrorism trials in the modern era of Islamic extremist violence.

    For the first time in Europe a defendant has been found guilty of direct links to the 11 September attacks on the US in 2001.

    After two failed cases in Germany, a court in Madrid has now convicted the Syrian-born Imad Yarkas of conspiring with the 11 September plotters.

    Just as significant perhaps is the decision of the judges to hand down guilty verdicts against 17 of the other 23 men on trial.

    What is interesting about those convictions and what may have implications elsewhere in Europe is that the verdicts were not based on links to any specific attacks but rather on membership and support of al-Qaeda - lesser charges which traditionally have been hard to prove.

    Of course the trial was not a total success for Spanish prosecutors.

    Political pressure

    Two of the defendants alleged to have had links to 9/11 were cleared of those charges and the sentences were not as stiff perhaps as prosecutors would have liked.

    But what explains the successes they did have?

    It may, in part, be the result of the court's willingness to consider wire-tap evidence, a practice not accepted everywhere in Europe.

    The effect of the Madrid train bombings may also have played a part by hardening judicial attitudes towards Islamist violence.

    The judges had also been under what might be described as considerable political pressure from prosecutors.

    In a thinly veiled attack on the United States, the chief prosecutor in the case, Pedro Rubira, had told the judges a successful outcome to the trial would show the world there was an alternative to invading countries and detention camps in the war against terrorism.

    Certainly, the verdicts in Spain follow many dramatically unsuccessful anti-terrorism cases across the European Union over the last few years.

    Laws scrutinised

    Many more terror suspects have been arrested than have eventually been prosecuted and of those who have been taken to court many have walked free.

    The failures have been blamed on many factors. Police complain of the difficulty in getting convictions in cases where attacks have been foiled.

    The failures have also been blamed on the weaknesses in the legal systems of many European countries. Of course, many European countries are now re-examining their anti-terrorism laws and the use of evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.

    If this latest case in Madrid will, on balance, be regarded as a success by prosecutors more tests are to come of the judicial approach to tackling terrorism.

    Next year sees the trial of those accused of carrying out the Madrid train bombings and in Britain several major anti-terrorism cases are also due to go to court.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4284064.stm
     

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