3 jailed over 2017 Barcelona attacks by Islamist extremists

International

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish court on Thursday imposed prison sentences ranging from 8 to 53 years on the three surviving members of an extremist Islamist cell that killed 16 people and injured 140 others in two consecutive attacks in and near Barcelona in 2017.

The three convicted by Spain’s National Court were accused of forming part of the cell or aiding it, but not of directly carrying out the attacks.

Two cell members, including a Muslim cleric believed to have been the ringleader, died in an apparently accidental blast at a country house while preparing explosives before the attacks. Six more were shot and killed by police after driving vehicles into groups of bystanders in Barcelona and the nearby coastal town of Cambrils.

The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for their actions.

A panel of judges convicted Mohamed Houli Chemlal, a 24-year-old Spaniard who survived the explosion days ahead of the attacks, and Driss Oukabir, 32 and originally from Morocco, who had been involved in their preparation but chose not to take part in the end, of belonging to a terrorist organization and manufacturing explosives. They were also found guilty on 29 counts of mass destruction with terrorist intent.

They were sentenced to 53 1/2 and 46 years of imprisonment respectively, although the ruling of over 1,000 pages clarifies that they are expected to serve only a maximum of 20 years.

The court also sentenced Moroccan-born Said Ben Iazza, 28, who helped the ring to buy materials for the explosives, to 8 years’ imprisonment for cooperating with a terrorist organization.

Prosecutors in the trial that began in November last year had asked for prison terms ranging from eight to 41 years.

On Aug. 17, 2017, a man driving a van plowed into a section of Barcelona’s crowded Las Ramblas boulevard, killing several people and injuring many others before escaping on foot.

Several members of the cell later carried out a similar vehicle attack in Cambrils, a resort town, before they were shot dead by police. The attackers were carrying knives and wore fake explosive belts.

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