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Final witnesses take stand at Barcelona attack trial

Published: Updated:

The final witnesses took the stand Thursday at the trial of three men over their alleged roles in the 2017 extremist attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people and injured 140 others.

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The last day of testimony was provided by police experts who analyzed the mobile phones and laptops of the defendants, who have been in custody for the past three years.

One officer told the court the defendants had searched for information about IS and what Islam has to say about terrorism.

The three men are not accused of taking part directly in the attacks, which were claimed by IS, but of belonging to the extremist cell that carried them out.

Prosecutors in the trial are asking for prison terms for the trio - Driss Oukabir, Mohamed Houli Chemlal and Said Ben Iazza - ranging from eight to 41 years.

On August 17, 2017, a man driving a van plowed into people on Barcelona’s crowded Las Ramblas boulevard, killing 14 people before escaping on foot.

The driver fled and killed another person before being shot dead several days later.

The next morning, five other members of the same cell rammed pedestrians in the nearby town of Cambrils, a resort 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the south, and fatally stabbed a woman before being shot dead by police.

The three defendants have denied being part of an extremist cell.

More than 200 witnesses have taken the stand, including police, victims and neighbors of the defendants, since the trial began on November 10 at a court near Madrid.

But many questions about the attacks remain unanswered including whether the attackers received help from abroad during their trips to France, Belgium and Morocco and how their radicalization went unnoticed.

One of the most gut-wrenching witness testimonies was delivered by Javier Martinez, whose three-year-old son was killed in the attack on Las Ramblas.

“We will never know what my son would have become,” he said on the third day of the trial as he swayed slowly from side to side.

“All the desire to go on with life and fight were broken on Las Ramblas,” he added.

The trial will resume on January 11 when the court will hear final arguments from the prosecution and defense before judges deliberate on their verdict.

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