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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July 2005, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK
Spain wraps up 9/11 terror trial
Immad Yarkas
Immad Yarkas is alleged to have led an al-Qaeda cell in Spain
Europe's largest trial of suspected al-Qaeda members has concluded in Madrid after 10 weeks of evidence.

A three-judge panel will now consider the case against 24 Muslim men, three of whom are accused of helping plan the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US.

The defendants include Syrian-born Immad Yarkas, the alleged head of an al-Qaeda cell in Spain. All 24 deny the charges.

The judges are expected to reach a verdict in mid-September.

QUICK GUIDE

Mr Yarkas, 42, is accused of heading a cell that allegedly provided funding and logistics for the people who planned the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Along with co-defendant Driss Chebli, he is said to have set up a meeting in June 2001, which was allegedly attended by at least one of the attack ringleaders, Mohammed Atta.

The third man charged in connection with the US terror plot is Ghasoub al-Abrash Ghalyoun, who is accused of filming the twin towers and other targets, material which was passed on to al-Qaeda operatives.

THE CHARGES
Ghasoub al-Abrash Ghalyoun - Allegedly filmed New York landmarks in 1997 for al-Qaeda. He is accused of 2,500 murders and belonging to a terrorist group
Immad Yarkas - Al-Qaeda's alleged leader in Spain, he is accused of 2,500 murders, belonging to a terrorist group and possessing counterfeit money
Driss Chebli - Allegedly helped al-Qaeda members involved in the 9/11 attacks. He is accused of 2,500 murders and belonging to a terrorist group
21 other defendants - Face charges including membership or association with a terrorist group, weapons possession, falsifying documents and fraud
All have said they are not guilty of the charges

Prosecutors want the three to receive more than 74,000 years in jail - or 25 for each of the more than 2,000 people killed on 11 September 2001.

Using his right under Spanish law to speak at the end of the trial, Mr Yarkas dismissed the case as a farce.

He insisted he knew nothing of al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden and condemned the 11 September attacks.

Islam "clearly says that killing children, women, elderly people is wrong, as is bringing down buildings", he told the court.

The other defendants - mostly men born in Syria or Morocco - are charged with belonging to a terrorist group, but not of planning for 11 September.

They face sentences of nine to 21 years if convicted.

Among them is a journalist from the Arabic TV station al-Jazeera, Tayssir Alouny, who interviewed Bin Laden after the attacks.

'Exemplary sentence'

Mr Alouny, accused of using a posting in Afghanistan to distribute money to the militant Islamic network, also protested his innocence as the trial concluded.

File photograph of Jose Luis Galan
Jose Luis Galan told the court he opposed all terrorist violence
He is one of eight suspects released on bail in the course of the trial.

Defence lawyers argue the case consists of doubts and suspicions but little concrete evidence.

All the defendants are part of a group of 41 suspects indicted by the anti-terrorist judge Baltasar Garzon.

Judge Garzon says Spain was a key base for hiding, helping, recruiting and financing al-Qaeda members in the lead-up to the attacks on New York and Washington.

The group also includes Osama Bin Laden and other senior figures in al-Qaeda, but under Spanish law suspects cannot be tried in absentia.


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