Three members of jihadist cell behind 2017 Barcelona attacks jailed


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mohamed Houli Chemlal, one of the three men suspected of belonging to an Islamist militant cell behind a van rampage on Barcelona’s central Las Ramblas boulevard in 2017, stands trial at Spanish High Court in San Fernando de Henares, Spain, November 10, 2020. Fernando Villar/Pool via Reuters

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MADRID (Reuters) -A Spanish court on Thursday sentenced three members of a jihadist cell responsible for attacks in Barcelona in 2017 in which 16 people died and more than 100 were injured to lengthy jail terms.

Spaniard Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Moroccan Driss Oukabir were handed sentences of 53 and 46 years, respectively, for belonging to a terrorist organisation, manufacturing explosives, attempted terrorist acts and 29 counts of grievous bodily harm.

Prosecutors had sought sentences of 41 years for Houli and 36 years for Oukabir.

The court said the two should not serve more than 20 years of their terms and the sentence can be appealed.

Moroccan Said Ben Iazza, the third member of the group, was sentenced to an eight-year term for collaborating with a terrorist organisation.

The charges related to an accidental explosion on the eve of the attack which occurred in Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, where explosives and gas canisters had been stored, but not to the rampage itself.

On Aug. 17, 2017, at the height of the tourist season, a single attacker in a rented van careered through dense crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 14.

The driver then killed another person while getting away.

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Five militants later drove a car into a crowd in the coastal resort of Cambrils and attacked bystanders with knives, killing a woman and injuring several others.

All the perpetrators were killed by police.

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