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Moroccan rape suspect released by Catalonian judge

Regional police agents in Catalonia, the Mossos d’Esquadra, continue their search for Khalid Oukhlifa, one of the alleged rapists arrested at the beginning of February after the sexual assault of a girl in an industrial warehouse in Sabadell.

Published: March 13, 2019, 2:55 pm

    Barcelona

    Spanish daily El Nacional reported that the alleged third rapist of Sabadell, Oukhlifa, well as the rest of the men arrested by town and regional police agents were brought before a judge and then released under precautionary measures.

    Only two of those arrested were jailed. They could be linked to evidence of their direct involvement as perpetrators of the gang rape of the 18 year-old girl.

    Among the men set free under precautionary measures, the judge voiced his conviction that the third perpetrator of the sexual assault of Sabadell is Oukhlifa, although there was not enough evidence. The release of the suspects were ordered pending additional evidence. The third man is Khalid Oukhlifa,  police sources told ElCaso.com.

    He was required to show up in court in Sabadell on the judge’s orders, and a week ago, when required to report, he failed to appear. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest, and regional police searching “actively” for him.

    His photo is currently being shared at the start-of-shift meetings in most police stations of the Barcelona metropolitan area. According to ElCaso.com, detectives believe that Oukhlifa has escaped from Catalonia and that he is no longer in Spain.

    There is no international order for his arrest yet. It is up to the judge in charge, Marcos Melendi López — who is up to date on the latest findings of the regional police — to issue such an order.

    The man, of Moroccan nationality, had been living illegally in a warehouse in Sabadell, with no known income or occupation, a fact that leads the police to believe that his escape abroad is a distinct possibility.

    Immediately after he was arrested by the police, Oukhlifa was brought in front of the judge, and it was the latter who ordered his release while awaiting new evidence even though he acknowledged the risk of escape — one of the three elements that can be taken into account to order pre-trial detention.

    The prosecutor’s office, for its part, had indeed requested detention, also emphasizing a risk of escape.

    Sadly, the judge, at the time of the suspect’s release, also ignored both the possibility that Oukhlifa could commit the same crime again, as well as the risk of destruction of evidence. These are two more reasons which judges can cite in order to keep the arrested person detained while a case is being investigated.

    The prosecutor, according to ElCaso.cat also asked for the detention of this suspect due to the social alarm that the rape had ignited, but the judge dismissed it.

    Oukhlifa has disappeared, and is believed to have left Catalonia. The complaint by the girl’s family, that the rape victim has been living in fear of coming across her attackers out on the streets, has since been gaining traction with the public.

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