Spain is reliving one of the worst moments of its recent history with the opening of the trial of those accused of taking part in the 2004 Madrid train bombings. The first defendant to appear was the alleged leader of al-Qaeda’s Spanish cell Rabei Osman who initially refused to speak, but then said he would do so through his lawyer. He denied any links to the events of the 11th of March, 2004.
In all, 20 Arab men and nine Spaniards face charges ranging from terrorist murder to stealing dynamite in relation to attacks that killed 191 people, injured 2,000 others and led to the fall of the Spanish government. Spain has raised its terror alert from low to medium for the trial. There are around 300 police officers located around the court.
More than 400 journalists from around the world are covering the proceedings. The trial is the largest ever in Europe of alleged Islamic militants – the hearings are expected to last until July. The three judges, however, are not likely to give their verdict till October at the earliest.