29 Indicted in Madrid Transit Terror Attacks

A judge Tuesday handed down the first indictments in the Madrid train bombings, charging 29 people with murder, terrorism or other crimes after a two-year investigation.

The commuter train bombings blamed on Muslim militants killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,700 on March 11, 2004.

The charges were contained in a 1,500-page indictment handed down by Juan del Olmo, a magistrate at the National Court, Spain's hub for investigating terrorism.

Six of the 29 men were charged with 191 counts of murder and 1,755 counts of attempted murder. They include Jamal Zougam, a Moroccan merchant who allegedly supplied cell phones used as detonators in the 10 backpack bombs that ripped through four crowded trains.

Five of these six lead suspects are also charged with belonging to a terrorist organization, while nine other men are accused of collaboration.

The indictment said four witnesses have identified Zougam as having been aboard trains that were bombed that day. One of the witnesses has identified him as "the person who places a dark blue sports bag under his seat," the indictment said.

Angeles Dominguez, a survivor of the attacks who now leads a victims' association, said Del Olmo had concluded his inquiry hastily. "The massacre was huge. I think more time is needed for investigation," she told AP Television News.

Dominguez said she doubted the main suspects indicted Tuesday were the ones really behind the attacks. "The project had to be the work of some other, highly qualified people," she said.

The bombings were Spain's worst terrorist massacre and are seen as having brought down a conservative Spanish government that backed the war in Iraq.

Shortly after the attacks, Islamic militants claimed responsibility on behalf of Al Qaeda and said they acted to avenge the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq, dispatched in 2003 by then prime minister Jose Maria Aznar.

However, a senior Spanish intelligence official and a Western one closely involved in counterterrorism measures told The Associated Press last month that there was no evidence the cell had any contact with or received any logistical or financial help from Usama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Aznar's government blamed Basque separatists for the attacks even after evidence of an Islamic link emerged. Voters punished his party at the polls in elections three days after the attacks. The victorious socialists quickly fulfilled a campaign promise and brought the troops home from Iraq.

Seven other suspects, described as ringleaders who included the ideological mastermind of the attacks, blew themselves up three weeks later in a suburban apartment as special forces who traced them through cell phone traffic moved in to arrest them. One policeman died in that explosion.

Key suspect Allekema Lamari, an Algerian who also was identified as being on the trains, was among those killed.

The other five men accused of murder include Emilio Suarez Trashorras, a Spaniard accused of supplying the dynamite used in the attacks. He allegedly sold it to the bombing cell in exchange for drugs and cash. The only woman indicted is his wife, Carmen Maria Toro Castro, on charges trafficking in explosives.

The other four men are Rabei Osman, an Egyptian who is now on trial in Italy on separate terrorism charges, and Moroccans Hasan al Haski, Youssef Belhadj and Abdelmajid Bouchar.

A trial is not expected until next year. In the meantime, Del Olmo can continue to gather evidence and hand down more indictments.

The suspects accused of murder will probably face jail terms of thousands of years if convicted, although they could only be held in jail for a maximum of 40 years. Spain has no death penalty or life imprisonment. Spanish prosecutors routinely request symbolically long jail terms in terrorism cases.