An Italian court has sentenced a leading suspect in the 2004 Madrid train bombings to 10 years in prison for terrorism. He is expected to be extradited to Spain for a trial opening in February.
A Milan court convicted 35-year-old Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed to 10 years in prison and 23-year-old Yahia Ragheh to five years in prison for subversive association aimed at international terrorism.
Egyptian-born Ahmed, also known as Mohammed the Egyptian is believed to have been one of the masterminds of the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.
He was arrested in Milan three months after the attacks, which killed 191 people and injured 2,000 others.
Italian prosecutors said the man bragged in recorded conversations about how the explosions on packed commuter trains were his idea. At the Milan trial, prosecutors argued that Ahmed had ties to a terror cell whose reach extended throughout Europe and Iraq.
Co-defendant, Yahia Ragheh, who lived with Ahmed, was reportedly being groomed to become a suicide bomber.
Ahmed's lawyer said the court had been influenced by the upcoming trial in Madrid.
Lawyer Luca d'Auria said that Ahmed appeared to be already on trial for the Madrid bombings and not because of the wiretaps.
But presiding judge Luigi Cerqua rejected the charge.
The judge said the court ruled based on the charges against the men and nothing more, adding that the court was influenced only by the weight of the evidence against them.
Ahmed's lawyers say they will appeal the sentence. But the Egyptian is likely to be extradited to Spain where he faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder. He will be tried along with 28 other suspects in the Madrid train bombing trial, which opens in February.