Spain’s National Court refuses to probe link between Spanish intelligence and Barcelona attack mastermind

According to El País, the court is of the same opinion as the prosecutor's office and declines to request more information from the CNI or the directors of the prisons where he was held

Spain’s National Court will not be investigating the possible links between the National Intelligence Centre (CNI in Spanish) and Abdelbaki es-Satty, the Imam of Ripoll who masterminded the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks in August 2017. According to Madrid daily El País, the court refused to accept the request from Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas –the lawyer representing Francisco Javier Martínez, the father of the three-year-old boy who was killed on the Rambla– to be privy to the relevant documents from the Spanish intelligence service. The court also declined to question the directors of the prisons and the Guardia Civil officers who dealt with Es-Satty during his stint in jail.

José Luis Calama, the judge who sits on the National Court’s central examining court number 4, has decided that it is not appropriate for the court to carry out the investigations which have been requested. He considers them unnecessary and "fully" agrees with the position of the public prosecutor, who objected to an probe into Abdelbaki Es-Satty’s ties with the CNI, arguing that it fell outside the court’s remit in its investigation into the events leading up to the attacks and that no evidence had emerged that such links ever existed.

The ruling, issued by the examining judge, also argues that the movements of the terrorist cell that staged the attack on the Rambla have been “retraced using information obtained thanks to international cooperation" and through an analysis of their electronic correspondence.

Several articles published in Spain’s online newspaper Público this July claimed that the CNI employed Es-Satty as an informer up until the time of the attacks and that the agency was well aware of the cell’s activities. The newspaper went further in its investigations, revealing that the CNI communicated with Es-Satty by means of what is known as a “dead-drop mailbox", the same system used by the members of the cell to communicate with each other, and by other terrorist networks in Europe which have been dismantled. The system consists of an ordinary email account which the various members of the group have access to by means of the username and password. When they wish to communicate they write a message but do not send it, meaning it is stored as a draft and then all of the members of the cell can read it. The message is subsequently deleted without leaving a trace.

Lawyer Alonso-Cuevillas told EFE [a Spanish newswire service] that he will appeal the judge's decision not to undertake the steps he requested, including recording the testimony of the police officers who interviewed Es-Satty between 2012 and 2014, while he was in prison in Castelló for drug trafficking. The investigations which Alonso-Cuevillas requested include testimony from the Deputy Director General of Penitentiary Institutions. The public prosecutor believes it is unnecessary, given his statements following the police’s interviews of Es-Satty while he was in prison on four occasions between 2012 and 2014.

The public prosecutor also opposed taking the statements of the police officers concerned, arguing that their interviews with the imam were part of the investigation undertaken by the security services, as part of "the role entrusted in them to prevent serious crimes" and that it appears as if they took place before the formation of the terrorist group which carried out the two attacks in Catalonia.

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