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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 16:49 GMT
Madrid survivor angry but undeterred
Sidonica Popa, Romanian survivor of the 11 March 2004 bombings
The bombings did not deter Sidonica Popa from staying in Spain
Sidonica Popa, who narrowly avoided the 2004 Madrid bombings, was travelling on the same suburban line where one of the attacks happened when she spoke to the BBC about the verdicts.

Only this time Mrs Popa, a Romanian immigrant, was travelling in the opposite direction, to the town of Alcala de Henares, home to a large Romanian community.

She could not hide her disappointment in the interview.

"I don't think this is justice. First of all, seven of this gang have been left to walk free," Mrs Popa said.

She is bitter about the fact that Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, who had been accused of masterminding the whole operation, was acquitted.

Politicians blamed

Mrs Popa admits that in a state where the rule of law prevails such a decision must be respected, but in her eyes - and she stresses she is just an ordinary person - justice has not been done.

Defendants in the dock at the Madrid trial
Mrs Popa is clearly angry at the "leniency" of some of the verdicts

She also puts the blame on the then conservative government, which was voted out of office days later, for the attacks.

"I remember people took to the street against sending troops to Iraq, but the Aznar government did not listen and then all of this happened," she says.

Mrs Popa escaped unharmed that day, having just alighted at Atocha, the station where the blasts occurred.

She works nearby and was 40m (131ft) away from the nearest explosion.

A Romanian friend of hers was badly wounded in one leg and his wife lost her hearing.

Romanian victims

Mrs Popa is among the hundreds of thousands of Romanians who have emigrated to Spain in search of a better life.

The strength of the community was sadly reflected in the 11 March 2004 toll - of the 191 dead, 15 were Romanians, making them the second largest group of victims after Spanish nationals.

Train wrecked in the 11 March 2004 attacks
Mrs Popa escaped unharmed on 11 March 2004

Most of them were commuting to Madrid from Alcala de Henares when the deadly bombs exploded.

But in spite of the psychological shock, Mrs Popa was and still is determined to stay in Spain.

"I want to stay here for my son, who is in school here, for a better life. Everybody knows there is a better life in a democracy, if you work hard," she says.

"Maybe that's because I escaped physically unharmed. Psychologically it's another matter."

"I started taking valerian three days after the blasts, when it all sunk in. But slowly, slowly, I recovered. Life has to go on."

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