Spanish fugitive arrested in New York over murder of girlfriend 20 years ago

Spanish police working with American FBI agents found a fugitive accused of murdering his girlfriend nearly 20 years ago in Spain - and just four months before the statute of limitations would have ended.

Spanish fugitive arrested in New York over murder of girlfriend 20 years ago
File photo: Nomadsoul1/Depositphotos

Spanish National police reported on Friday that they had arrested a Spanish fugitive in New York, with the help of the Spanish embassy in Washington, the FBI and American immigration authorities from the ICE.

Police believe that he is responsible for the murder of his girlfriend in 1997.

The Spanish national with Dominican roots had been dating the Colombian mother of two for six months before her death. Police say she had wanted to end the relationship weeks before, and the man had refused. The suspect started to act resentful towards her and intimidated her in direct and indirect ways, even reportedly threatening to kill her with a gun.

Then on October 5th 1997, police say the man turned up to the woman’s home in Barcelona where she lived with her children and other family members, saying he needed to retrieve some documents from her. Police believe that through either violence, intimidation or deception, the man managed to get the woman into his car, after which point she was not seen again.

The next day, the man boarded a flight and arrived in New York, where he has since been living secretly, using fake documents, the FBI confirmed. It is believed that he never returned to Spain after that.

Eight months after he left for New York, the woman’s body was discovered by chance in an area with a lot of vegetation in nearby Viladecans, close to Barcelona’s airport.

Spanish police explained in their report that they had been able to track the suspect down with the help of not only American, but also Dominican authorities, and were able to deduce that the man had been using a new identity in New York.

The man is now being held in a detention centre in the US, awaiting his extradition to Spain.


Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The Moroccan suspect held in connection with a machete attack on two Spanish churches, killing a verger and badly injuring a priest, will undergo psychiatric testing, a court said Tuesday.

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The case is being handled by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, with the judge in charge asking that “two doctors conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the suspect”.

The suspect, 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, was arrested at the scene after the attacks on two churches in the southern town of Algeciras last week.

The Audiencia Nacional said the psychiatric evaluation, which will be carried out by doctors from the court’s forensic department, would provide “information about the legal responsibility” of the “presumed jihadist”.

Prosecutors have opened a terror probe and, on Monday, the court remanded the suspect in custody without bail on murder and terrorism charges.

During the deadly incident on January 26th, the suspect entered San Isidro church and attacked its priest with a machete, leaving him seriously wounded before entering Nuestra Señora de La Palma.

There he attacked the verger and chased him out of the church where he killed him.

‘Targeted priests and infidels’

Court details released on Monday said the attacker had also injured three other people, including another Moroccan man whom he “considered an infidel” because he had renounced his faith.

It said Kanjaa’s actions could be “qualified as a jihadist attack directed at both priests who profess the Catholic faith, and Muslims who, according to the suspect, don’t follow the Koran”.

The court said the suspect fits the profile of a “self-indoctrinated terrorist who acts individually without direct ties to a specific terror group but operates in the name of jihadist philosophy”.

Last week, Spain’s left-wing government refused to rule out mental illness and the police have described him as “unstable”.

The court said Kanjaa became indoctrinated “rapidly” within the space of up to six weeks, citing witnesses as telling police that just before that, he “was drinking alcohol and smoking hashish”. Then he suddenly started listening “regularly to the Koran on his mobile phone”.

One of Kanjaa’s neighbours told AFP something similar on Friday, saying he had changed radically six weeks ago, growing a beard and wearing a long robe.

Officials have said Kanjaa was served with a deportation order last June but had no prior convictions and was not under surveillance.