Release of Ghali by Spain further flares up the crisis with Morocco

by Deborah Cater
Brahim Ghali released by Spanish judge
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MADRID – Brahim Ghali of Frente Polisario, suspected of war crimes, left Spain on Tuesday night following his acquittal by the Spanish court for lack of evidence.

The political dispute between Spain and Morocco flares up even further. Brahim Ghali is the leader of the separatist Polisario Front, a group that is fighting for its own state in Western Sahara, an area claimed by Morocco.

Ghali was admitted to a hospital in Spain on April 18th due to a corona infection.  He was too ill to travel. For this reason, Spain could summon him to court. The Moroccan government found it unacceptable it had not been informed Ghali was in a Spanish hospital and recalled its ambassador.

Suspected of war crimes

The African human rights organisation Asadedh and residents of the Sahara region accuse Ghali of genocide, murder, torture and kidnapping during his reign as defense minister from 1976 to 1989. Ghali steadfastly denies the accusations. Despite these charges, the Spanish court rejected an arrest request due to lack of evidence.

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Ghali left for Algeria

A Spanish judge heard Brahim Ghali’s statement for hours on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after it turned out Asadedh and the court had insufficient evidence for further prosecution. Ghali took a 1:30 am flight to Algeria from Pamplona, ​​Spanish news site La Sexta reported. According to the Spanish news agency EFE, Ghali will continue his recovery in a medical centre there.

Deep rift between Spain and Morocco

The hospitalisation and treatment of Ghali in Spain further exacerbated existing tensions between Morocco and Spain. Moroccans are furious with Spain for capturing Ghali. The diplomatic crisis also led to thousands of migrants storming the Spanish North African enclave of Ceuta. This was possible because the Moroccan authorities allowed migrants to act against agreements, as a form of retaliation.

Crisis between Morocco and Spain far from over

Although the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Morocco of Ghali’s departure, the battle between Morocco and Spain does not seem to end with the departure of the Polisario leader. Morocco continues to demand Spain taked a clear stance on Western Sahara. Prime Minister Sánchez, in turn, believes that Morocco should respect European borders.

The Moroccan ambassador in Madrid threatened action after a comment by the Spanish Foreign Minister that Ghali’s arrival in Spain was not a secret but “discreet” and that it is up to Madrid to decide.

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