MADRID, Spain – The judge leading the probe into the Madrid terror bombings has released three Moroccan suspects, including the only woman charged in the case so far, court officials said Wednesday.
National Court judge Juan del Olmo (search) allowed Naima Oulad Akcha, Faisal Allouch and Abdelouahid Berrak to leave prison but ordered them to report to the courthouse daily. The three are charged with collaboration with a terror group because of their links with prime suspects in the bombings.
The release was ordered because the judge concluded the three were not directly implicated in the attacks, court officials said.
Of the 18 people charged so far, six have been charged with mass murder and the rest with collaborating with or belonging to a terrorist organization. Three others were recently arrested and 12 remain in prison.
Spain's worst terrorist attacks, claimed by Islamic radicals, killed 191 people and wounded another 2,000 on March 11.
Also Wednesday, leading daily newspaper El Pais reported that police focused their probe into the bombings on Islamic extremists in the first hours after the attacks. The report contradicted a version of events provided by the former government.
The government of then-Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (search), which lost a general election three days after the bombings, immediately blamed the armed Basque separatist group ETA (search). Days later it backed away.
Many Spanish voters in the March 14 general elections interpreted the bombings as a reprisal for Aznar's support of military action in Iraq.
El Pais reported that among the police's first inquiries were searches for Arab citizens at two luxury Madrid hotels and checks of passenger lists at Madrid's Barajas international airport.
El Pais said it was quoting the National Court investigation currently being carried out by Del Olmo.
At the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Madrid, El Pais reported, police inspected the room where the sultan of Malaysia and his entourage stayed.
As reports emerged indicating Islamic terrorists were likely responsible, the Spanish opposition accused the government of a cover-up by pointing its finger at ETA.
The Interior Ministry declined to comment on the report, saying the investigation is secret.