Spanish Judge Indicts Bin Laden, 34 Others for Terrorism
Part of Judge Baltasar Garzon’s 700-page ruling, obtained by Reuters, read, ”The September 11 attacks were partially planned in Spain where several of the accused played an active and vital part in perfecting the terrorist actions in the United States.”
Garzon’s investigation into an al-Qaida cell operating in Spain calls for Interpol to arrest bin Laden and extradite him to Spain.
Bin Laden and nine others were charged with “as many crimes of terrorist murder … as there were dead and injured” in the Sept. 11 attacks, the Associated Press reported.
According to Garzon, under Spain’s universal justice legislation terrorist crimes can be tried in Spain, even if the acts were not committed there.
Garzon said the warrants and indictments are not aimed at guaranteeing bin Laden’s trial in Spain, but instead are seen as a preventative measure that he and others in his al-Qaida terrorist organization will not escape justice if and when they are caught.
Among the suspects already in custody are a well-known Al Jazeera correspondent, Tayseer Alouni, who interviewed bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks, and suspected head of the al-Qaida cell in Spain, Imad Eddim Barakat Yarkas, who has been in custody since November 2001.
Garzon’s investigation received international attention with the Sept. 8 arrest of Alouni, whose peers at Al Jazeera called the arrest an attack on press freedom.
Alouni is being held without bail pending his trial. He is accused of forming part of al-Qaida since 1995 and continued to do so after he joined Al Jazeera in 2000. He denies all of the charges, including distributing money to al-Qaida while based in Afghanistan.
Although many have been released due to a lack of evidence, 40 suspected Islamic extremists have been arrested in Spain, where Garzon has been leading the investigation since the attacks.
Garzon became internationally known when he had Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested in London, but he failed to take him to court. Britain ultimately freed Pinochet, saying he was unfit to stand trial.