Italy sends Spain Egyptian linked to Madrid bombs
ROME – An Egyptian accused of being one of the masterminds of the 2004 Madrid train bombing and sentenced in Italy to 10 years for terrorism has been temporarily extradited to Spain, his lawyer and officials said on Friday.
Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, known as 'Mohamed the Egyptian', became the first suspected Madrid plotter to be convicted. He was arrested in Milan three months after the March 11, 2004 blasts that killed 191 people and wounded 2,000 others.
An Italian court sentenced him 10 days ago for belonging to an international terrorist network but his lawyer said at the time he was likely to be extradited to Spain to join a larger trial against 29 suspects starting in February. 'It appears he has been transferred to Madrid,' his defence lawyer Luca D'Auria told Reuters.
Italy's Foreign Ministry called it a 'temporary extradition' carried out at the request of a Spanish court and said Ahmed must return to Italy, where he has an appeal pending. Ahmed had said before his sentence was passed that his trial was 'a political case against Islam'. Spain's public prosecutor wants the March 11 bombers and accomplices to serve a total of over 270,000 years in prison.
Italian prosecutors say Ahmed had close ties to the Madrid bombers and bragged in recorded conversations about how the rush-hour explosions on packed commuter trains were his idea. Ahmed was not in Spain during the attacks.
He arrived in Italy the previous December and had been working at odd jobs, including as a house painter, before his arrest. Italian police began taping Ahmed's telephone conversations in April 2004 after Spanish police investigating the bombing discovered his cell phone number.
Judicial sources have said Ahmed was trained as an explosives expert in the Egyptian army, but D'Auria said Ahmed only had an office job in the army. He had argued that the case should have been tried in Spain – not Italy.