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'Not enough evidence' as one suspect in Barcelona terror attack released

Four suspects in all were held, suspected of “terror-related murder”.

Updated 10.10pm

A SPANISH JUDGE released one suspect in the terror attacks that claimed 15 lives and wounded more than 100 people last week, saying evidence against him was weak, but remanded two others.

Spain Attacks Four un-named alleged members of a terror cell accused of killing 15 people in attacks in Barcelona Source: AP/PA Images

National Court Judge Fernando Abreu ordered that Mohamed Houli Chemlal, a 21-year-old Spaniard, and Driss Oukabir, a 27-year-old Moroccan, be held while the investigation continued after questioning them for several hours.

Chemlal is suspected of preparing explosive devices at a house south of Barcelona while Oukabir is suspected of renting a white van that ploughed into crowds in Barcelona on Thursday, killing 13 people.

But the judge ordered the conditional release of Mohamed Aalla, the owner of the Audi that was used in a second vehicle attack in the seaside town of Cambrils in the early hours of Friday that killed one person.

The judge wrote in his ruling that there was not at this point “evidence to establish his participation in the events, aside from being the formal owner” of the vehicle which was in fact being used by his younger brother.

Aalla will have to report regularly to police and is prohibited from leaving Spain.

He is still under formal investigation but has not been formally charged unlike Chemlal and Oukabir who have been charged with terror related offences.

The judge will investigate further the fourth suspect arrested over the attacks, Salh El Karib, before deciding if he will be released or remanded in custody, the source added. The judge will decide the fate of this suspect within three days.

The four were the only surviving suspects from the terror cell that carried out the attacks.

Logistical support?

The questioning of the four suspects caps five days of angst following the vehicle ramming attacks in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils.

Yesterday, Spanish police shot dead the suspected Barcelona van driver, Younes Abouyaaqoub, in a dramatic end to the manhunt for the Moroccan national, who shouted “God is greatest” when he was killed.

He was the last fugitive member of a 12-man cell suspected of plotting the attacks.

Besides the four men detained, the rest were killed, either by police or in the explosion in Alcanar.

While Catalan police say the cell has been dismantled, investigators are trying to determine if it had logistical or other forms of support from other individuals.

Questions are also arising about the group’s possible international connections.

Spain Attacks A policeman hugs a boy and his family that he helped during the terrorist attack, at a memorial to the victims on Las Ramblas. Source: Santi Palacios via Press Association Images

Audi in Paris, imam in Belgium

In Belgium, the mayor of the Vilvorde region told AFP that Satty spent time in the Brussels suburb of Machelen, next to the city’s airport, between January and March 2016.

On the other side of Brussels, the Molenbeek suburb has gained notoriety as a hotbed of international jihadists after the Brussels bombings in March 2016 and the Paris attacks in November 2015.

And in France, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told BFMTV that the Audi used to mow down people in Cambrils had been detected by speed cameras in the Paris region while making “a very rapid return trip” days before the Spanish attacks.

Collomb is due to host Spanish counterpart Juan Ignacio Zoido tomorrow for talks due to include anti-terrorism cooperation.

At least one of the suspects also spent a night in Zurich in December, according to Swiss police, who said it was too early to speculate about any connections with Switzerland.

In bandages but fit

The four suspects in court included Driss Oukabir, the older brother of Moussa who was killed by police in Cambrils on Friday.

The others were Mohamed Aallaa, one of three brothers allegedly involved, and Salh El Karib, who manages a store that allows people to make calls abroad.

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Chemlal, dressed in hospital patient clothing and with his right hand bandaged, was brought in after a doctor determined that he was fit for interrogation, a court spokesman told AFP.

Spain Attacks Source: AP/PA Images

‘One or more’ attacks

Five days on, a clearer picture is emerging of the events that unfolded last week.

Abouyaaqoub used a vehicle to smash into crowds on Barcelona’s famous Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100.

While on the run, the 22-year-old stabbed to death the driver of a car he hijacked to get away.

Several hours later, a similar vehicle attack in Cambrils saw a car run into pedestrians, with one occupant jumping out and stabbing a woman, who later died.

Police shot dead the five attackers there, some of whom were wearing fake explosive belts.

Abouyaaqoub was gunned down yesterday in a village about 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of Barcelona, after receiving multiple tip-offs.

Police opened fire as he appeared to be wearing an explosive belt, which turned out to be fake.

The victims of the attacks were from three dozen countries including those as far afield as Australia, China and the United States.

© AFP 2017

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