Four suspected Barcelona attack plotters appear in court

MADRID (Reuters) – Four men accused of being members of an Islamist cell behind a van attack that killed 13 people in Barcelona last week appeared in court on Tuesday, a day after the alleged driver was shot dead by police.

The four, the only ones still alive among the 12 men thought to constitute the group, were brought from Barcelona to Madrid where they were taken to the High Court under tight security for the hearing.

Police on Monday shot dead 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, who they had identified as the driver of the van that careered along the packed Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona on Thursday, leaving a trail of dead and 120 injured from 34 countries.

After the attack, Abouyaaqoub escaped on foot, stabbing to death a man who was parking his car and fleeing in the vehicle.

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia said on Tuesday he walked some 40 km (25 miles) from Sant Just Desvern, the town on the outskirts of Barcelona where he ditched the hijacked car, to Subirats, where he was shot dead.

Abouyaaqoub, who had changed clothes, walked by night and hid during the day, the paper said citing sources involved in the investigation.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the van attack and a separate deadly assault, hours later, in the coastal resort of Cambrils, south of Barcelona.

Spanish Civil Guards escort one of four men accused of involvement in an Islamist cell behind a van attack in Barcelona last week, in Tres Cantos, Spain, August 21, 2017.Juan Medina

In Cambrils, a car rammed into passers-by and its occupants got out and tried to stab people. The five assailants were shot dead by police, while a Spanish woman died in the attack.

Most of the 12 suspects lived in the town of Ripoll, set in forested hills beneath the Pyrenees north of Barcelona near the French border, and most were young men of Moroccan descent.

One of those who appeared before investigating magistrate Fernando Andreu was Driss Oukabir, whose passport was found in the abandoned van after the Barcelona attack. He turned himself in to police, protesting his innocence and saying his younger brother Moussa Oukabir, 17, who was killed in Cambrils, had stolen his documents.

Catalan Mossos D’Esquadra officers leave the scene where Younes Abouyaaqoub, the man suspected of driving the van that killed 13 people in Barcelona last week, was killed by police in Subirats, Spain, August 21, 2017.Albert Gea

Also in court was Mohammed Aalla, owner of the Audi car used in the Cambrils…

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