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WORLD

29 indicted in Madrid train blasts

By CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman

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The commuter train bombings killed 191 people in March 2004 and wounded more than 1,500.

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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A Spanish judge has indicted 29 people in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, including five who are charged directly with the deaths of the 191 victims.

According to Tuesday's indictments and supporting documents -- which total 1,460 pages -- five suspects are charged with conspiracy in the deaths and with the attempted murders of 1,755 people who were wounded in the March 11, 2004 coordinated blasts on morning rush-hour commuter trains.

The suspects include Jamal Zougam, a 32-year-old Moroccan, who is accused of being one of the ringleaders of one of three groups that converged to carry out the attacks. He is accused of membership in a terrorist group as well as murder and attempted murder.

Youssef Belhadj, Hassam El Haski, and Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed all face similar charges. The fifth person indicted, Abdelmajid Bouchar, is accused of murder and attempted murder but not membership in a terror group.

In addition to those accused of being directly connected to the killings, nine of the 29 are Spaniards who are accused of trafficking in explosives.

One of those, Jose Emilio Suarez Trashorras, is accused of collaboration with a terrorist group and being "a necessary cooperative" in the murders and the attempted murders of the train bombing victims.

Seven key suspects in the case blew themselves up three weeks after the train bombings, as police closed in on their hideout in the Madrid southern suburb of Leganes.

The indictment calls the seven "determinant" in the entire chain of events in the bombings.

The indictment also said that Spain's intelligence service warned then-Prime Minister Jose Maria Asnar in October 2003 that security needed to be boosted against Islamic terror threats in Spain.

By that time, Spain had troops in Iraq, and the indictment concludes that the train bombings were an al Qaeda inspired attack intended to get about 1,300 Spanish troops withdrawn from Iraq.

Any trial is not expected for months or possibly up to a year.

The much-anticipated indictments come a month after Spain marked a somber second anniversary of the attacks. In Madrid's main Retiro Park, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the "Forest of Remembrance," a grove of olive and cypress trees planted last year, one for each of the fatal victims.

Zapatero's Socialist government was elected just three days after the attack, in a major upset that ousted the ruling conservatives.

The blasts were the deadliest terrorist attack in Western Europe since the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people.

While initial speculation fell on Basque separatists, the investigation into who was behind the Madrid train bombings has focused primarily on Islamic terrorists.

Many of the 116 suspects facing preliminary charges are Moroccans, and of this total, 24 remained in jail in Spain while one other suspect, an Egyptian, was in jail in Italy, before the indictments.

To date, only one person -- who was then 16-years-old -- has been convicted in he attacks. He was the only minor charged in the case. In November 2004 the Spanish youth pleaded guilty to transporting explosives stolen from a mine in northern Spain and of collaborating with a terrorist group.

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