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Moroccan jailed over Madrid bombs

By James Copnall
BBC News, Rabat

Abdelillah Ahriz in court - 18/12/2007
Abdelilah Ahriz is the latest to receive a heavy sentence over the attack

A Moroccan man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in the Madrid train bombings of 2004.

Abdelilah Ahriz was found guilty of being part of the criminal group that carried out the attack and of raising money for terrorist activities.

He denied the charges and his lawyer said he would appeal.

Nearly 200 people were killed and more than 1,800 injured in the commuter train bombings, which were carried out by a group linked to al-Qaeda.

Ahriz is the latest Moroccan to receive a heavy prison sentence for playing a role in the Madrid bombings.

Two weeks ago another Moroccan received a 10-year sentence over the attack.

'Flawed convictions'

Ahriz's lawyer said there were contradictory reports about the DNA evidence used to convict his client and stressed that Ahriz still denied all the charges.

The 29-year-old has already been acquitted of belonging to a terrorist group in a separate trial.

Moroccan human rights groups have often said they believe many convictions for terrorist offences to be flawed.

The majority of those who have been convicted since the Madrid bombings, whether in Spain or in Morocco, are Moroccan citizens.

The attack traumatised Spain and led to a profound re-evaluation of the country's relationship with its southern neighbour.

Madrid and Rabat now co-operate much more closely on security issues.

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