Spain seeks 3/11 suspect in Serbia
Madrid agrees to request Moroccan's extradition
From Al Goodman
Spain has sought Bouchar since last year on an international arrest warrant.
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- The Spanish government has agreed to seek the extradition from Serbia of a Moroccan man wanted as a prime suspect in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people.
The prime minister's Cabinet approved the extradition request for Moroccan-born Abdelmajid Bouchar, 22, whom prosecutors suspect of a "decisive role" in the coordinated attacks against four morning rush-hour commuter trains on March 11, 2004.
The government, "with full confidence in international cooperation in the fight against terrorism," has decided to seek the extradition of Bouchar "for his presumed link to the train bombings," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a nationally televised news conference after the Cabinet meeting.
Spain's National Court, which is investigating the bombings, wants Bouchar on 191 charges of murder, 1,500 charges of attempted murder -- one for each of the injured -- and charges of possession of explosives, officials said.
A total of 109 people, many of them Moroccan-born, have been charged in the case, and about 20 remain in jail, a National Court spokeswoman told CNN. Indictments are expected possibly next month and a trial would follow.
Spain has sought Bouchar since last year on an international arrest warrant. Serbian authorities detained him recently on an immigration violation and later found he was wanted for the train bombings.
The National Court said Bouchar's fingerprints were found at two key locations: a rural home near Madrid where the bombs were thought to have been assembled, and a suburban Madrid apartment where seven key suspects blew themselves up as police closed in on their hideout three weeks after bombings.
Spanish news reports said Serbian authorities would have 40 days to decide on the extradition but that they have indicated a willingness to send Bouchar to Spain soon.
Spanish authorities announced Bouchar's arrest in Serbia on August 17, saying he was carrying forged Iraqi documents. Serbian police consulted the international police agency, Interpol, and Spanish police then confirmed his true identity, officials said.
Spanish media reports, citing police, said the arrest occurred July 23 while Bouchar was traveling on a night train to the capital Belgrade. He had reportedly earlier been hiding in neighboring Bulgaria.
Officials say Bouchar was on the street as police closed in on the suspected train bomber hideout in the Madrid suburb of Leganes on April 3, 2004. Bouchar detected their presence, shouted up in Arabic to the other suspects in the apartment and took off running, officials said.
A gun battle ensued between the suspects inside the apartment and police on the street before special operations officers closed in.
As they did, the seven suspects, including several prime suspects in the train bombings, blew themselves up, also killing one of the special operations officers.
A search of the site subsequently turned up Bouchar's fingerprints and a Moroccan passport in his name, officials said. His fingerprint also appeared at a rural home in Chinchon, on the eastern outskirts of Madrid, where authorities say the bombs were assembled before being taken to the commuter trains.
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