2 Barcelona Suspects Are Charged With Terrorism Offenses
BARCELONA, Spain – A Madrid judge Tuesday accused two suspects of last week’s terrorist attacks in Spain after a day of interrogation, which appears to confirm that the group had planned a more ambitious attack.
However, the judge ordered the release of a suspect and ordered the room to be detained for 72 hours for further questions.
The four suspects – the only survivors of a terrorist cell in which 15 people died and near Barcelona – were transferred overnight to Madrid, where they were brought before Fernando Andreu, the judge of the Spanish National Court in charge of the matter.
Judge Andreu questioned each of them Tuesday, starting with Mohamed Houli Chemlal, 21, who appeared in court in hospital wards.
He was admitted for treatment after being injured in an explosion in a house that the terrorist cell had used as a bomb factory. The blast apparently derailed his initial plans for a bombing in Barcelona.
In his decision, Judge Andreu asks Mr. Chemlal and another suspect, Driss Oukabir of belonging to a terrorist organization, for a murder related to terrorism and possession of explosives.
The judge extended detention and investigation Sahal al Karib, who ran a cafe, and released Mohammed Aalla but asked him to make a weekly report for the authorities and to remain in Spain during the investigation.
Tuesday’s meetings were held behind closed doors. However, court officials told Spanish media that at least one of the suspects had confirmed that the cell had planned a major attack that included detonating a bomb on monuments and churches in Barcelona.
The court appearances come a day after police killed Younes Abouyaaqoub, the last known member of the terrorist cell, in the countryside west of Barcelona.
Mr Abouyaaqoub, 22, would have driven the van that killed 13 people last Thursday on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous seafront promenade.
Abouyaaqoub then stabbed a man to death while he escaped. Another person died in a separate attack in Cambrils, a seaside resort.
Four suspects appeared on Tuesday in a Madrid court under Barcelona’s attack: from the left, Mohamed Driss Houli Chemlal Oukabir, Sahal Mohamed el Karib and Aalla.
Although the terrorist cell was dismantled, Moroccan police arrested at least three people during the attacks. One is a cousin of two members of the cell, and another is a seller of butane gas who worked in Spain.
The bomb factory contained more than 100 bottles of butane gas, and its accidental blast Wednesday night would have precipitated the vehicle’s attacks. The gas salesman is detained Ennadih Hicham, 44, on Tuesday, according to El Español, a Spanish online newspaper.
Investigators are still trying to establish links with other extremist imams who died in the house blast and are believed to have inspired attacks last week.