Spain’s M-11 Verdicts Won’t Explain Government Bungling of Investigation

Spain’s M-11 Verdicts Won’t Explain Government Bungling of Investigation

MADRID, Spain -- Let justice takes its course: A fine phrase to cap an argument, but not one you're likely to hear from Europeans in a state of high moral dudgeon over terrorists being confined in cages at Guantanamo. From the objectionists, expect no more than a glare in reply to the question, "Well, then, what would you do to keep terrorists from killing more innocent people?" A minority, however, will sometimes make a profession of faith in civilized Europe's instruments and institutions for administering justice, based on due process and humane and corrective sanctions for the guilty.

That is why we should pay attention when a panel of three Spanish judges delivers its verdict on the 28 individuals accused of direct complicity in the March 11, 2004, terror atrocities in which 191 people were killed and over 1,800 others maimed by bombs planted on Madrid commuter trains. To the extent that the issues go beyond baseline outcomes of guilty or not guilty, they allow themselves to be examined even before the judges end their deliberations, which is set to happen no sooner than Sept. 25 and probably no later than Oct. 12.

The court recessed on July 2, following 57 sessions spread over a period of four-and-a-half months. Since then, a Lebanese suspect accused of collaborating with a terrorist organization and forgery has been released, as is mandatory in Spain when deliberations advance far enough to establish that the accused party should either be acquitted or sentenced to less than half the jail term sought by the prosecution. At the same time, extensions have been approved for other defendants whose preventative detention would otherwise have run out on Sept. 25.

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