A 16-year-old Spaniard was sentenced to six years in a juvenile detention center on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to charges he helped steal and transport the dynamite used in the March 11 Madrid train bombings.
It was the first trial arising from the bombings which killed 191 people and wounded 1,900, the most devastating attack in modern Spanish history.
The juvenile — identified only by his initials G.M. because he is a minor — made only a short appearance in the armored basement courtroom in Madrid’s High Court building. The trial had been moved from the juvenile court for security reasons.
Judge Jose Maria Vazquez Honrubia asked the defendant if he agreed with the charges and the six-year term proposed by the prosecutor.
He replied simply: “Yes.”
The judge then sentenced him to six years in a juvenile detention center followed by five more years of supervision.
The public was separated from the court by bullet-proof glass. The suspect, with his mother sitting next to him, was hidden from view by a screen.
The case came to trial a relatively swift eight months after the attacks because the suspect is a minor.
Most of the 30 suspects under arrest or court supervision are North Africans described by the judge as on an Islamic holy war against the West.
In videotaped messages the bombers claimed to represent al-Qaida in Europe and said they were attacking Spain for sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The juvenile — also known by his nickname El Guaje, meaning The Little Guy — is linked to two other Spanish-born suspects in the case, older men also accused of helping steal the dynamite from a mine in the north of Spain.
The TNT was later packed into 14 bombs of roughly 22 to 25 pounds each that were hidden in sports bags and left aboard four packed commuter trains.
Ten of the bombs went off at roughly the same time, three duds were destroyed by police, and one — found 12 hours later in a police warehouse where it had been moved unintentionally —provided virtually all the breaks in the case, starting with the mobile phone used to trigger the detonator.
As a result investigators believe they have arrested or identified nearly all the perpetrators.