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Italy hands over madrid suspect

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Italy hands over Madrid suspect

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Italy has handed over one of the suspected ringleaders in the March train bombings that killed nearly 200 people to Spanish authorities for trial, court officials said Tuesday.

Rabei Osman el Sayed Ahmed, known as "Mohamed the Egyptian," was whisked before a judge upon his arrival in Madrid and ordered held without bond pending arraignment, most likely on Thursday, a court spokeswoman told CNN.

El Sayed Ahmed was arrested in the Italian city of Milan in June on charges of belonging to an international terrorist organization.

Spanish authorities call him a key figure in the preparation of the March 11 train bombings, which killed 191 people at a Madrid commuter rail station.

He was charged with 191 counts of murder and additional charges of attempted murder and belonging to a terrorist organization, the court spokeswoman said.

El Sayed Ahmed used a court-appointed lawyer and an interpreter during the hearing, and was being held in northwestern Madrid's Soto del Real prison.

Court sources said Italy agreed to a six-month temporary extradition that can be extended if trial proceedings take more time. If convicted, el Sayed Ahmed would be returned to Italy to serve his sentence.

He is one of at least 17 people arrested in connection with the bombings. Seven other suspects were killed in April when they blew themselves up rather than surrender to police.

Leaked transcripts of wiretaps on el Sayed Ahmed's phone, published in Italy and Spain, included a statement that "the Madrid attack was my project."

His lawyers have said his voice is unrecognizable on the recordings.

-- CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman contributed to this report.

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