June 18, 2021

Targeted by two complaints for “torture” and “genocide”, the leader of the Polisario heard by a Spanish judge

The leader of the Saharawi separatists of the Polisario Front, targeted by two complaints for “torture” and “genocide”, will be heard on Tuesday 1is June by justice in Spain, where his welcome for treatment was the spark of a major crisis between Rabat and Madrid. Hospitalized since April in Logroño for complications related to Covid-19, Brahim Ghali will be questioned by videoconference by a judge of the Madrid High Court of the National Hearing, at 10:30 a.m., from the hospital in this city of northern Spain.

The leader of the Polisario Front and president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR, self-proclaimed in 1976) has not been charged in either of these two cases. At the end of his investigation, the judge may decide to prosecute him or to dismiss him. The fact remains that this hearing is the center of attention in Spain and Morocco, after more than a month of tensions at the highest level, with the culmination of the arrival in mid-May close of 10,000 migrants in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

Read also Morocco warns Madrid against “rotting” crisis with Spain

At the origin of this hearing, a complaint for “illegal arrest, torture and crimes against humanity” filed in 2020 by Fadel Breika, dissident of the Polisario Front naturalized Spanish, who claims to have been the victim of « tortures » in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria. Closed, this complaint was reopened at the start of the year.

Dating from 2007, the second case on which Brahim Ghali will be heard, also previously classified, has been reopened thanks to his presence in Spain. This is a complaint lodged in 2007 by the Sahrawi Association for the Defense of Human Rights (Asadedh) for “genocide”, “assassination”, “terrorism”, “torture” or “disappearances” committed there again in the Tindouf camps, according to this organization based in Spain.

Believing that there was “No clear clues” of Brahim Ghali’s participation in the crimes described in this second complaint, the judge refused to confiscate his papers from the Polisario leader to prevent him from leaving Spain, as claimed by the plaintiffs. Brahim Ghali had already been summoned to appear in connection with this complaint in 2016 when he was due to travel to Spain to participate in a conference in support of the Saharawi people – but he had finally canceled his trip.

A new round of vigorous exchanges

On Monday, the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned that the crisis was not over “Not to resolve with the only hearing” of the Polisario leader and again called for an investigation ” transparent “ on the conditions of his arrival in Spain, while Morocco accuses him of having traveled “With a falsified passport”. In a new round of vigorous exchanges, Rabat also stressed that this crisis was “A test for reliability” partnership between the two countries. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez retorted that he was « inadmissible » that Morocco could “Attack the borders of Spain” letting migrants enter Ceuta due to “Foreign policy disputes”.

Read also In Ceuta, decades of migration crisis between Spain and Morocco

“In danger of death”, the leader of the Polisario arrived in Spain in the greatest secrecy, on April 18, aboard a medicalized plane of the Algerian presidency and equipped with a ” diplomatic passport “, according to the daily The country. He was then admitted to Logroño hospital under a false name ” For safety reasons “, which led the judge to send police on the spot at the beginning of May to verify his identity and inform him of his summons. In retaliation for the reception of one whom Rabat considers to be a “War criminal”, Moroccan forces opened the floodgates two weeks ago at the border in Ceuta, causing an unprecedented wave of migration.

Desert territory of 266,000 km2 located in the north of Mauritania, Western Sahara is considered a “Non-self-governing territory” by the UN, in the absence of a final settlement. Supported by Algeria, the Polisario Front calls for a self-determination referendum, while Morocco proposes autonomy under its sovereignty.

The World with AFP