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González Laya charged over Brahim Ghali's entry into Spain

The former minister has been called to testify to explain the entry of the Polisario Front leader, which caused a crisis between Spain and Morocco
Arancha González Laya

AP/PETROS KARADJIAS  -   Former Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya during a press conference on 30 September 2020.

The head of Zaragoza Magistrate's Court number 7, Rafael Lasala, continues to investigate the entry into Spain of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, which led to a major diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco.

In this investigation, the magistrate has called the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, to testify, as she was responsible for Spanish diplomacy when the plane carrying Ghali landed at the Zaragoza air base. Ghali is said to have arrived at the base to be transferred to a hospital in Logroño to be treated for conditions caused by COVID-19.

Brahim Ghali, secretario general del Frente Polisario
AFP/RYAD KRAMDI - Brahim Ghali, secretary general of the Polisario Front

The magistrate's decision comes at the request of the lawyer for the popular action, Antonio Urdiales, who considers Laya's testimony to be essential.

For the moment, the exact date on which Laya will testify before the judge is unknown. Last July, the former minister was dismissed by Pedro Sánchez after an extensive government reshuffle. Since then, there has been a strict silence in the administration about who is responsible for Ghali's entry. 

Following confirmation of the leader's presence in Spain, Morocco expressed its dissatisfaction at not having been informed of the decision beforehand. This decision sparked a crisis between Spain and Morocco that led to the illegal entry of some 8,000 immigrants into Ceuta, under the inaction of Moroccan border security. 

Fotografía de archivo del avión que llevaba a bordo al líder del Frente Polisario, Brahim Gali, despegando en el aeropuerto de Pamplona, norte de España, el miércoles 2 de junio de 2021
AP/ALVARO BARRIENTOS - File photo of the plane carrying Polisario Front leader Brahim Gali on board, taking off at the airport in Pamplona, northern Spain, Wednesday, June 2, 2021.

In this regard, Morocco eventually acknowledged that, although Ghali's entry was the reason for the diplomatic conflict, the real cause was Spain's position on Morocco's autonomy proposal on the Western Sahara issue.

Similarly, Rafael Lasala has also summoned as witnesses the former head of the cabinet of the former vice-president Carmen Calvo as a result of the statement issued by Laya's number 2, Camilo Villarino, who confirmed that "he would have called him to confirm Ghali's entry into Spain". 

Migrantes marroquíes en la frontera con Ceuta
AP/JAVIER FERGO - Moroccan migrants at the border with Ceuta

Today, Ghali is said to have resumed his activities after it was confirmed through a tweet published by the Polisario Front itself that the Polisario leader had returned to the refugee camps in Tindouf in Algeria. In this sense, Ghali left Spain on 2 June last after the judge dismissed the lawsuits accusing him of having been responsible for alleged crimes against humanity after stating that "the statements of witnesses do not match the claims of the lawsuits".