The imam accused of masterminding the Barcelona terrorist attacks should have been deported at the end of his prison sentence for drug smuggling, but overturned the ruling by arguing it would breach his human rights, it has emerged.
Islamic preacher Abdelbaki Es Satty was told he must comply with an expulsion order when he left jail in April 2014, according to the Spanish daily, El Mundo.
But the 42-year-old Moroccan won an appeal against the decision after arguing his case in front of a judge.
The judge who made the decision is said to have accepted Es Satty’s claims his forced removal would be a breach of his international rights.
The preacher followed up his court win by seeking asylum through lawyers in an application filed on November 29 2014, according to El Mundo.
The decision meant that he was able to move freely among the 26 EU countries that form part of the Schengen area.
Es Satty was jailed for four years in 2010 for smuggling hashish between Morocco and Spain and while in prison became close to one of the ringleaders behind the Madrid bombings.
It is thought he may have been radicalised while in prison and after leaving prison became an imam at a mosque in the town of Ripoll, from where last week’s attacks were planned.
Spanish officials have not responded to the claims that Es Satty ought to have been removed from Spain.
Under Spanish immigration laws, foreign-born nationals who receive prison sentences of more than one year often face the threat of expulsion when they leave jail.
The court that took the decision on Es Satty is said to be based in the eastern Spanish city of Castellon, where he served his sentence.
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