Court convicts 18 accused

MADRID - Spain's high court on Wednesday convicted three men of murdering 191 people and injuring more than 1800 others in the 2004 Madrid bombings, but acquitted four of the top suspects of murder charges.

MADRID - Spain's high court on Wednesday convicted three men of murdering 191 people and injuring more than 1800 others in the 2004 Madrid bombings, but acquitted four of the top suspects of murder charges.

The court did not find any of the three organisers guilty of direct involvement in the attacks - the most deadly carried out by Islamic radicals on European soil.

The court acquitted seven suspects and found 18 others guilty of lesser charges related to the attacks, including belonging to a terrorist organisation.

The sentences ranged from three years to almost 43000 years, though under Spanish law no one will serve more than 40 consecutive years. One defendant was released due to lack of evidence.

The acquittals of the main suspects shocked many Spaniards.

The verdicts ended a trial that over five months brought 29 defendants, nearly 50 lawyers and 350 witnesses to a temporary courtroom in Madrid.

"Today justice has been rendered," said Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

But those who believed prosecutors had produced sufficient evidence to convict the main suspects thought otherwise. - New York Times

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