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Spain condemns three men who aided jihadists in the 2017 Barcelona attacks

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A Spanish court on Thursday handed jail terms of up to 53 years to three men who aided the jihadists behind the 2017 Barcelona attacks that killed 16 people.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed bloodshed from August 17-18, 2017, when a pickup truck ran over pedestrians in Barcelona and others were attacked in a nearby coastal city as Europe was hit by a series of jihadist attacks.

Following a three-month trial that began in November, the National High Court convicted Mohamed Houli Chemlal, 24, and Driss Oukabir, 32, of belonging to the terrorist cell behind the attacks, and sentenced them 53 and 46 years respectively.

They were also convicted of the manufacture and possession of explosives and terrorism-related damages, but were acquitted of 14 counts of terrorist murder and other charges in a ruling of more than 1,000 pages.

The third, 26-year-old Said Ben Iazza, was given eight years for collaborating with the group.

The sentences were longer than those requested by the prosecution, which had asked that Chemlal and Oukabir serve 41 and 36 years respectively.

Despite the length of their sentences, the judges said the couple would serve no more than 20 years behind bars.

Pere Aragones, who assumed this week as political leader in the northeastern region of Catalonia, said that the carnage of that August “has marked us forever.”

“Today, more than ever, we remember all the victims and send our affection to their families. And let’s not forget the work that the security and emergency forces were doing in those days, ”he tweeted.

10 year ban

Although the six perpetrators were shot and killed by the police, these three men were prosecuted for assisting in the massacre that began when one of the jihadists ran over pedestrians on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas on a busy Thursday, killing 14.

Hours later, shortly after 1:00 am on Friday morning, five others rammed pedestrians in Cambrils, 100 kilometers (60 miles) further south, and fatally stabbed a woman before being shot and killed by the policeman.

Several days later, the police also shot and killed the driver of the van.

During the investigation, Chemlal admitted that the cell had initially planned to target sites such as the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and police found documents also related to the city’s Camp Nou football stadium and the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

But their plans were accelerated after an accidental explosion on August 16 in a house in Alcanar, a coastal town between Barcelona and Valencia where they had been preparing explosives.

The blast killed the group’s spiritual leader and injured Chemlal, forcing the cell to hastily improvise the Barcelona attacks.

In their ruling, the judges also said that Chemlal and Oukabir were prohibited from returning to Alcanar for 10 years after completing their sentence, with a five-year ban handed over to Ben Iazza.

More than 200 witnesses were called to testify at the trial that both the victims and the prosecutors hoped would shed light on how the violence unfolded.

(AFP)

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