Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Spanish Prosecutor Wants 9/11 Conviction Quashed

Spain's Public Prosecutor has urged the Spanish Supreme Court to quash the conviction of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, sentenced last year by a lower court to 15 years in prison for "conspiracy to commit terrorist murder" in connection with the September 11. The lower court concluded that sufficient evidence exists to prove that Yarkas helped an al Qaida cell in Hamburg draw up the plan to attack the World Trade Center, but the Public Prosecutor agrees with Yarkas' attorneys that "[t]he evidence considered by the court... is weak and inconsistent... and does not fulfil the level of requirement that it must reasonably and necessarily meet to persuade and convince." (The Public Prosecutor did encourage the Supreme Court to uphold Yarkas' conviction for being a member of al-Qaida.)

If the Supreme Court agrees with the Public Prosecutor, it will mean that a high-profile trial of 24 alleged al-Qaida members in Spain last year ultimately failed to convict anyone in connection with 9/11. Three of the 24 defendants were accused of 2,973 murders in connection with the attacks -- charges that carried potential jail terms of more than 74,000 years -- but were acquitted last September by Spain's High Court. (18 of the 24 defendants were convicted of other charges, in most cases being members of al-Qaida.)

Interestingly, the Public Prosecutor urged the Supreme Court to uphold the conviction of Tayseer Alouni, an al-Jazeera journalist who was sentenced to seven years for collaborating with al-Qaida. His conviction -- which was based almost exclusively on the fact that he interviewed Osama bin Laden not long after the 9/11 attacks -- has been fiercely criticized the by media organizations such as Reporters Without Borders.


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