Three men jailed over 2017 Catalonia terror attacks
Three men have been jailed for between eight and 53 years after being found guilty of assisting the perpetrators of the 2017 terror attacks in Catalonia, which left 16 people dead and 140 wounded.
The men who carried out the atrocities – Spain’s worst terror attack since the Madrid train bombings in March 2004 – used a van to knock down pedestrians on Barcelona’s La Rambla boulevard on 17 August 2017 and then staged another assault the following day in the Catalan coastal town of Cambrils.
Local police shot the five Cambrils attackers dead at the scene while officers killed the Barcelona attacker a few days later. Isis claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying their authors were “soldiers of the Islamic State”.
On Thursday, Spain’s highest criminal court, the Audiencia Nacional, sentenced Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Driss Oukabir to terms of 53-and-a-half years and 46 years respectively for belonging to a terrorist organisation, possessing explosives, terrorist destruction, and causing serious injury.
The third defendant, Said Ben Iazza, was acquitted of belonging to a terrorist organisation but given an eight-year sentence for collaborating with a terror group by lending the conspirators his identity documents and a van “that he knew would be used to buy and transport chemical products”.
Although Chemlal and Oukabir were acquitted of terrorist homicide, the court imposed the maximum possible sentences because “they formed part of a terrorist cell at a time when the decision was made to carry out … one or several acts of extreme seriousness”.
After his arrest, Chemlal told a judge that the cell had been planning larger-scale bomb attacks against targets including Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church, but had changed their plans after an explosion tore through the house where the plotters were staying in the coastal town of Alcanar.
The Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, also said the blast had deprived the group of the capacity to stage an even deadlier attack.
“The explosion in Alcanar meant they no longer had the necessary material to plan larger-scale attacks in Barcelona,” said Josep Lluís Trapero, head of the force at the time. “They were probably trying to carry out a different kind of attack.”
Chemlal was injured in the blast, which killed two of the plotters, including Abdelbaki Es Satty, an imam suspected of radicalising and organising the cell.