8A - Thursday, November], 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
A COSTUME PARTY ON ELM STREET
3 convicted in Madrid attacks
Court hands down
life sentences for
al Court convicted the three main
suspects in-the Madrid commuter
train bombings of mass murder
yesterday and sentenced them to
tens of thousands of years in pris-
on for Europe's worst Islamic ter-
But the verdict was a mixed
bag for prosecutors, who saw four
other key defendants convicted
of lesser offenses and an accused
ringleader acquitted altogether.
With much of the case resting on
circumstantial evidence, the three
judges may have been wary after
a number of high-profile Spanish
terror cases were overturned on
Spain's prime minister said the
verdict still upheld justice. But
victims of the attack, which killed
191 people and wounded more
than 1,800 when bombs exploded
on four trains on March 11, 2004,
expressed shock and sadness over
the court's decision.
"The verdict seems soft to us,"
said Pilar Manjon, who lost her 20-
year-old son in the attack and has
become a leader of a victims asso-
ciation. "I don't like itthatmurder-
ers are going free."
Three lead suspects - Jamal
Zougam and Othman Gnaoui
of Morocco and Emilio Suarez
Trashorras of Spain - were con-
victed of murder and attempted,
murder and received prison sen-
tences ranging from 34,000 to
43,000 years. Under Spanish law,
the most they will spend in jail is
40 years. Spain has no death pen-
alty or life imprisonment.
Zougam was convicted of plac-
ing at least one bomb on a train
and Gnaoui of being a right-hand
man of the plot's operational chief.
Trashorras, who once worked as
a miner, was found guilty of sup-
plying the explosives used in the
One of the biggest surprises
was the acquittal of Rabei Osman,
an Egyptian already convicted
and jailed in Italy for the Madrid
Italian authorities said Osman
bragged in tapped Arabic-lan-
guage phone conversations that he
was the brains behind the Madrid
plot. But translations of the taped
conversations by two sets of Span-
ish translators indicated his com-
ments were more nuanced and did
not amount to a confession.
The Spanish verdict came just
two days after an Italian appeals
court upheld Osman's conviction
there, but shaved two years off
his prison term, sentencing him to
Osman watched the Spanish
proceedings on a videoconfer-
ence link from the Justice Pal-
ace in Milan. The Europa Press
news agency reported that he
broke down in tears and shouted:
"I've been absolved! I've been
Four other top suspects -
Youssef Belhadj, Hassan el Haski,
Abdulmajid Bouchar and Rafa
Zouhier - were acquitted of mur-
der but convicted of other charges
that included belonging to a terror-
ist organization. They received sen-
tences of 10 to18 years in prison.
Fourteen other defendants
were found guilty of lesser crimes
and six others were acquitted.
Much of the evidence in the 57-
session, five-month trial was cir-
Partygoers in costumes celebrate Halloween at the Elm Street Block Party last night.
To avoid laws, sex offenders
declare themselves homeless
Trend makes it ing the world more dangerous
rather than less dangerous," said
difficult to track therapist Gerry Blasingame, past
chairman of the California Coali-
offenders tion on Sexual Offending.
Similar laws in Iowa and Flor-
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) ida have driven offenders under-
- Hundreds of California sex ground or onto the streets.
offenders who face tough new "They drop off the registry
restrictions on where they can because they don't want to admit
live are declaring themselves living in a prohibited zone," said
homeless - truthfully or not - Corwin Ritchie,, executive direc-
and that's making it difficult for tor of the association of Iowa
the state to track them. prosecutors.
Jessica's Law, approved by 70 The organization tried unsuc-
percent of California voters a year cessfully in the past two years
ago, bars registered sex offenders to persuade lawmakers to repeal
from living within 2,000 feet of the state's 2,000-foot* residency
a school or park where children restriction.
gather. That leaves few places "Most legislators know in their
where offenders can live legally. hearts that the law is no good and
Some who have had trouble find- a waste of time, but they're afraid
ing a place to live are avoiding re- of the politics of it," Ritchie said.
arrestbyreporting-falsely,insome The problem is worsening
cases - that they are homeless. in Florida as about 100 local
Experts say it is hard to monitor ordinances add restrictions to
sex offenders when they lie about the state's 1,000-foot rule, said
their address or are living day-to- Florida Corrections Department
day in cheap hotels, homeless spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger.
shelters or on the street. It also Sixteen homeless offenders are
means they may not be getting the now living under a Miami bridge,
treatment they need. while another took to sleeping on
"We could potentially be mak- a bench outside a probation office.
tions, it becomes almost impossi-
ble for them to find places to live,"
Twenty-two states have dis-
tance restrictions varying from
500 feet to 2,000 feet, according
to California researchers. But
most impose the offender-free
zones only around schools, and
several apply only to child molest-
ers, not all sex offenders.
California's law requires parol-
ees to live in the county of their last
legal residence. But in San Francis-
co, for example, all homes are with-
in2,000 feet of aschool or park.
"The state is requiring parol-
ees to find eligible housing in
San Francisco, knowing full
well there isn't any," said Mike
Jimenez, president of the Cali-
fornia parole officers union. "It
will be impossible for parole
agents to enforce Jessica's Law
in certain areas, and encouraging
'transient' living arrangements
just allows sex offenders to avoid
State figures show a 27 percent
increase in homelessness among
California's 67,000 registered
sex offenders since the law took
effect in November 2006. Since
August, the number of offenders
with no permanent address rose
by 560 to 2,622.
"This is a huge surge," said
Deputy Attorney General Janet
Neeley, whose office maintains
the database. "Any law enforce-
ment officer would tell you we
would prefer to have offenders
at addresses where we can locate
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