Spain deports Madrid train bombing convict to Morocco

AFP , Sunday 16 Mar 2014

Spain on Sunday deported a Moroccan man after he completed a 10-year jail sentence for obtaining the explosives used in the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, the government said.

Spain's National Court in 2007 sentenced Rafa Zouhier, 34, to ten years behind bars for collaborating with the Islamist cell that carried out the country's deadliest terrorist attack.

The court found that Zouhier had acted as the intermediary between a former Spanish miner who supplied the explosives used in the bombings and the leader of the cell that carried out the attacks.

Although Zouhier, a former police informant, was not convicted and sentenced until 2007, he had been behind bars since March 19, 2004.

Spanish police escorted him to Tangiers in northern Morocco immediately after his release in the early hours of Sunday from the Puerto de Santamaria prison in Cadiz in southwestern Spain, an interior minister spokesman said.

Zouhier, a martial arts expert from Casablanca, was deported to Morocco under a provision in Spanish law that makes conviction for a serious crime grounds for expulsion, the spokesman added.

During his trial, Zouhier declared himself to be "super innocent" and was expelled from the courtroom on several occasions, once for nudging another defendant with his elbow.

Spanish courts sentenced 18 people for the shrapnel-filled bomb attacks that killed 191 people and injured about 2,000 on four commuter trains heading for Madrid's Atocha station.

The coordinated attack was claimed by militants who said they had acted on Al-Qaeda's behalf over Spain's role in the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The seven chief suspects committed suicide on April 3, 2004, by blowing themselves up in an apartment near Madrid, also killing a policeman.

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