19th May 2024
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Letter bomb suspect, aged 74, goes on trial in Spain, accused of terrorism

A pensioner who allegedly sent letter bombs to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, as well as the US and Ukrainian embassies in 2022, went on trial on Monday, facing 22 years behind bars if convicted.

Pompeyo González Pascual, from northern Spain, is facing charges of terrorism and manufacturing explosives for sending letter bombs to six addresses in late 2022.

The accused, 74 years old, is a retired official of the Vitoria Council in the Basque Country and who, according to Spanish media, also worked as a gravedigger at the local cemetery. 

González Pascual listened as the charges were read out at Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court. The trial will run until Thursday.

According to the indictment, the suspect was opposed to Madrid and Washington’s support for Ukraine following Russia’s February 2022 invasion and ‘sought to change those positions and cause a profound upheaval in Spanish society’.

The devices were sent to Sánchez, Defence Minister Margarita Robles, the US and Ukrainian embassies, a Spanish arms firm that makes grenades donated to Ukraine and a major Spanish military base.

A Ukrainian embassy staffer sustained light injuries while opening one of the packages. The other packages were intercepted by security staff.

An expert who examined the suspect’s computer told the court they found evidence of ‘searches for how to prepare explosive devices’ and of his visiting ‘media propaganda channels related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict’.

Gonzalez Pascual was arrested in January 2023 and put in pre-trial detention but a judge granted him conditional release last month on grounds he wasn’t in a position to destroy evidence or likely to reoffend, and had no previous convictions.

At the time, the judge said there were ‘no indications’ that he had acted in conjunction with ‘any organised terror group’.

His arrest came after a New York Times report said US and European investigators believed Russian military intelligence officers had ‘directed’ associates of a Russia-based white supremacist group to carry out the Spain campaign.

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