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2 convicted for trafficking in explosives

From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- A court in northern Spain convicted two men Wednesday of trafficking in explosives, and they face similar charges next month when the trial begins in the case of the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people three years ago.

In the separate trial in northern Spain, the court convicted Jose Emilio Suarez Trashorras and his brother-in-law, Antonio Toro, for trafficking in explosives and drugs, and sentenced them to 10 years and 11 years in prison, respectively, according to a copy of the sentence, viewed by CNN.

But in the train bombing trial, they face far stiffer penalties if convicted. Prosecutors seek about 38,000 years in prison for Suarez Trashorras, 30, considered a "necessary cooperator" in the attacks, and about 30 years in prison for Toro.

Most of the 29 defendants in the train bombing case are Islamic terrorist suspects, but nine are Spaniards, including Suarez Trashorras and Toro. The nine are accused of facilitating explosives, manufactured in Spain and stolen from a mine in the north, to terrorists who carried out the attacks.

Most of the Spaniards face lesser charges, and sentences of up to 30 or 40 years, but Suarez Trashorras faces charges of mass murder for the 191 deaths and attempted murder for more than 1,800 people who were wounded in the coordinated bombings against four Madrid commuter trains on March 11, 2004.

Of the 29 defendants in the train bombings, seven are prime defendants who each face about 38,000 in prison and Suarez Trashorras is the only Spaniard in this group.

In northern Spain, the Provincial Court of Asturias sentenced Suarez Trashorras to six years in prison for trafficking in explosives and four years for trafficking in cocaine and hash.

Toro was sentenced to six years for explosives trafficking and five years for drug trafficking. The case stemmed from their arrests in July 2001 - nearly three years before the train bombings - when police seized quantities of drugs and explosives and detonators.

The three-judge panel issued its 187-page ruling Wednesday against them and other defendants. The others are not linked to the train bombings.

Spanish news reports said the lawyer for Suarez Trashorras planned to appeal the provincial court's sentence. The same lawyer, Gerardo Turiel, will represent Suarez Trashorras in the Madrid train bombing case.

In the train bombings, authorities suspect that explosives, exchanged for drugs or money, ended up in the hands of terrorists who carried out the attacks on the morning rush-hour commuter trains.


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