The trial of the double jihadist attack of 2017 opens in Spain

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Three years after the double attack that killed 16 people in Barcelona and in another city in Catalonia, the trial of the three survivors of the jihadist cell responsible for the facts opens Tuesday in Madrid.

The accused are two alleged members of the group and a man presented as an accomplice. The perpetrators of the double attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, had died under police bullets.

The imam suspected of having indoctrinated and recruited a dozen young people of Moroccan origin in the Pyrenean village of Ripoll had been killed in the explosion of a villa in Alcanar (200 kilometers south of Barcelona) caused by the explosives that ‘they were storing.

This accidental explosion had upset the plans of the jihadist cell, which originally planned to carry out simultaneous and coordinated attacks against prestigious sites, such as the famous basilica of the Sagrada Familia and the FC Barcelona stadium or the Eiffel Tower. .

On August 17, 2017 at the beginning of the afternoon, on avenue des Ramblas in Barcelona, ​​one of the gang members driving a van at very high speed crashed into the crowd, killing 14 people, mostly tourists. , and injuring more than a hundred.

The next day, in the seaside town of Cambrils, 100 km south-west of Barcelona, ​​five of his acolytes crushed with a vehicle, then stabbed several passers-by, before falling under police bullets.

Three days later, the hunt for the driver of the Ramblas, Younes Abouyaaqoub, ended in a vineyard near Barcelona, ​​where he was shot by the police.

Divergent accusations

The main defendant, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, 23, who survived the Alcanar explosion, faces 41 years in prison, notably for belonging to a terrorist organization, and manufacturing and possession of explosives.

Driss Oukabir, 31, the brother of one of the killed jihadists, faces 36 years in prison for renting the van used on the Ramblas.

The latest accused, Said Ben Iazza, 27, risks eight years for having lent a vehicle and papers to the attackers.

The trio, however, are not prosecuted for the attacks themselves, contrary to the wishes of the civil parties.

“For us, a member of the cell is as responsible as the one who commits the attack,” said Robert Manrique, lawyer for the UAVAT association, which represents 72 victims.

For his part, Driss Oukabir’s lawyer, Luis Álvarez Collado, told AFP that he would seek the acquittal of his client, who, according to him, “barely knew” the members of the cell.

The fact that he hired the van that was used in the Ramblas attack “does not mean that he knew it was going to be used to carry out the attack,” says the lawyer. According to her, her client thought she should be used for a move.

Driss Oukabir had certainly observed the radicalization of his brother Moussa, but that “does not imply that he knew what his brother was doing”. He also points out that his client turned himself over to the police after the attacks, when he had the opportunity to escape.

Unanswered questions

The shock wave provoked by these attacks was quickly eclipsed by the political crisis in Catalonia, in particular the illegal referendum on self-determination in the region organized in October of the same year, then the proclamation of an independent republic stillborn. .

Since then, the investigation has not shed light on all the gray areas of the case.

How did the radicalization of these young people go unnoticed? How could they have bought materials to make explosive devices without attracting the attention of the police? Did they have connections abroad, with regard to their travels in Belgium, France and Morocco? Why was the famous Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty not under surveillance?

The UAVAT association urged Parliament for the creation of a commission of inquiry, as had taken place after the jihadist attacks of March 2004 in several trains in the suburbs of Madrid, which, with 191 dead, remain the most murderers perpetrated in Europe.

In vain. “We understand that there has been a failure. These failures, we must bring them to light (…) so that this does not happen again, ”says Mr.e Manrique.

At his side, Javier Martinez, whose three-year-old son had been run over by the van on the Ramblas, agrees.

“I will never get my son’s life back (…) But the threat is still there, as we have seen in France or Austria,” he said, referring to recent murderous attacks committed by men claiming ISIS.

The trial is scheduled to end on December 16.

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