The trial started on Tuesday of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the 2017 terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils that left 16 dead and more than 140 people injured.
Amid tight security, the trial started just after 9am at a division of Spain’s National Court in San Fernando de Henares, near Madrid. It is expected to continue until 16 December, with 235 people called to give witness.
Most of the casualties took place on Barcelona’s famous La Rambla boulevard on 17 August 2017, after a van was driven at speed by Younes Abouyaaqoub through the middle of the pedestrianised area in the centre of the street. He was shot dead by police four days later.
The attacks had been orchestrated by a jihadi group based in Ripoll, under the town’s imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, who died with other members in an accidental explosion in an apartment in Alcanar on the eve of the attacks.
Several hours after the attack on La Rambla in Barcelona, five of his accomplices drove into more pedestrians and stabbed a woman who later died of her injuries in Cambrils, a seaside resort 100km to the south. All five were shot dead by police. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the double attack.
The terrorist cell had been planning attacks on a large scale involving explosives, with sites such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the football stadium of Barcelona among alleged targets. But the accidental explosion in Alcanar pushed the group to quickly improvise the two attacks in Catalonia.
The three men on trial in Madrid – Mohamed Houli Chemlal, 23, Driss Oukabir, 31, and Said Ben Iazza, 27 – have not been charged with directly participating in the two attacks, but for helping the attackers.
Chemlal and Oukabir have been charged with belonging to a terrorist organisation, with making and possessing explosives and other terrorist materials, and with the conspiracy to wreak havoc. Ben Iazza is accused of collaborating with a terrorist organisation, as well as lending them his van and ID.
Prosecutors have called for a 41-year jail sentence for Chemlal and 36 years for Oukabir, whose brother was one of the attackers and who rented the van used in the Barcelona attack. For the third accused, Ben Iazza, an 8-year sentence has been requested.
Chemlal and Oukabir were arrested after the attacks and have been in preventive detention since August 2017, while Ben Iazza has been in custody since September 2017.
The Spanish Congress has repeatedly denied an investigation committee on the attacks.
Click here for all our reports related to the Barcelona Terror Attacks
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