A Spanish criminal court has sentenced the only three surviving participants in the jihadist terrorist attacks on Barcelona and Cambrils in August 2017 to 53, 46 and 8 years in prison respectively - longer sentences than the public prosecutors had called for. A total of sixteen people were killed in the acts of terror, the majority in a van attack on Barcelona's Rambla, but accusations of homicide against two of the defendants were rejected by the court, as they were not directly involved in these attacks.
In its sentence, the judges of the National Audience imposed a sentence of 53 years and six months' prison on Mohamed Houli Chemlal and 46 years on Driss Oukabir, in both cases for the crimes of belonging to a terrorist organization; manufacture, storage and possession of explosive substances or devices of a terrorist nature; and devastation in a joint attempt to carry out a terrorist action, with 29 offences of injuries due to serious recklessness.
In addition, the court's sentence, which runs to 1,018 pages, also bans them from holding any public employment or office, as well as from entering the town of Alcanar for 10 years after fulfilling their jail sentences. The chamber indicated that the effective compliance of the sentences for these two defendants will not exceed 20 years.
The court sentenced the third of the defendants, Saïd ben Iazza, to 8 years' prison for an offence of collaboration with a terrorist organization, and also banned him from public employment or office, and from going to the town of Alcanar for five years after completing his prison sentence.
However, the court acquitted Mohamed Houli and Driss Oukabir on 14 counts of homicide in an attempted terrorist action, including 34 counts of injuries caused by terrorism and five counts of injury through recklessness, which they were also charged with.
The court also acquitted Saïd ben Iazza on several additional charges he faced: membership of a terrorist organization; possession, storage and manufacture of terrorist explosives and conspiracy to commit terrorist devastation.
The sentence can be appealed to the National Audience's appeals chamber.
Longer sentences than public prosecutors requested
The court's sentences - 53 and a half, and 46 years, respectively for Houli and Oukabir - go further than the prison terms demanded by the public prosecutors, who called for a 41 year sentence for Houli and 36 years for Oukabir. The third man accused, Saïd ben Iazza, received an 8 year sentence, as the public prosecutors demanded.
The prosecutors did not accuse any of the three of terrorist murder, because they did not have a direct involvement in the attacks. In this regard, they disagreed with many of the multiple private prosecutions also acting in the trial and, in particular, with those exercised by the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) and the 11-M Association, which called for reviewable life imprisonment for Houli and Oukabir.
Mohamed Houli Chemlal, who received the longest sentence, was injured in the explosion of the house in Alcanar in Tarragona province, used as a bomb factory by the terror cell. The explosion occurred a day before the two main attacks that were carried out - a deadly van attack on on August 17th, 2017, on Barcelona's Rambla, which murdered 14 people and injured over 140, and a second vehicle and knife attack that night, carried out in the coastal town of Cambrils, south of Tarragona, which killed one person. A sixteenth victim was stabbed by the Rambla van driver.
The terror group's mastermind, Abdelbaki És Satty, the imam from the town of Ripoll, is believed to have died in the Alcanar explosion. Few details of his alleged connection with Spanish police and intelligence, for whom he had been an informer, were mentioned in the trial.
Six other members of the terror group were shot dead by Mossos d'Esquadra police during the attack in Cambrils, while the Rambla van killer, Younes Abouyaaqoub, was also gunned down by police several days later.
Driss Oukabir, was the brother of one of the terrorists shot dead in Cambrils, but did not actively take part in the attacks. The van used for the Barcelona attack was rented in his name. Saïd ben Iazza had also been implicated by his ID being used for some of the terror group's activities.
The trial began in November 2020 and lasted for 32 sessions until February 2021.