A judge asks Defence and Foreign Affairs to identify the people who allowed Ghali to enter Spain

The arrival of the Polisario Front leader at the Zaragoza Air Base without allegedly passing passport control is being investigated
Brahim Ghali

AFP/RYAD KRAMDI  -   Brahim Ghali

The judicial issue surrounding the figure of Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front who left Spain after the Audiencia Nacional did not apply precautionary measures to him following his telematic appearance related to the charges received for alleged crimes of terrorism or genocide, continues. 

The Polisario leader entered Spain to be admitted to a hospital in Logroño to be treated for respiratory problems, a situation that generated a diplomatic problem with Morocco, as the Alaouite kingdom demanded explanations for the lack of information and Spanish cooperation on Ghali's real situation in Spain. The Spanish government justified the entry permit on humanitarian grounds, but the North African country was not satisfied with this explanation and criticised the lack of cooperation from a country considered a partner and ally on both shores of the Mediterranean. 

After learning of Ghali's presence in Spain, Morocco sent a series of messages asking for explanations and denouncing the lack of cooperation, especially through Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and other situations arose that made relations more difficult, such as the migratory crisis in Ceuta with the irregular entry of thousands of Moroccans across the border, or Spain's exclusion from Operation Crossing the Strait for the holiday return of Moroccan citizens in favour of other routes such as the French, Italian or even Portuguese ones.  

Nasser Bourita, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Marruecos
AFP/FADEL SENNA - Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Morocco

Ghali was sent back to Algeria after being given the go-ahead to leave Spain and was admitted to a hospital in Algiers, where he was even visited by Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and the head of the North African country's army, Said Chengriha. 

Despite Ghali's departure from Spain, the judicial plot continues, as now the head of the 7th Court of Instruction of Zaragoza, Rafael Lasala, asked last week the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs to send him, within seven days, the necessary documentation to identify the people from both institutions who gave orders to allow the entry of the Polisario Front leader through the Zaragoza air base without allegedly passing the corresponding passport control, as stated in an order of the magistrate, as reported by the newspaper El País. 

This request comes after General José Luis Ortiz-Cañavate, in charge of this Aragonese military installation, responded to a questionnaire sent by the judge with a written statement in which he assured that they received a telephone order from the Air Force General Staff for the occupants of the Algerian plane that landed on 18 April at the base not to pass pass passport control. The military high command pointed out in its reply that this violated the operating procedure of the military installation, which stipulates that the occupants of foreign aircraft from countries outside the Schengen area (which includes 23 European Union countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, but not Algeria) must submit to passport control by the State Security Forces, as reported by the media El País. The military officer added that the plane received a "diplomatic authorisation" granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that he did not know the identity of the two people on board, including Brahim Ghali, as El País reported. 

Crisis migratoria en Ceuta
AP/JAVIER FERGO - Migration crisis in Ceuta

In this way, Judge Lasala investigates the aspects related to Ghali's entry into Spain after the complaint received for the alleged crimes of false documentation and prevarication presented by the Malaga lawyer Antonio Urdiales after the information that emerged in relation to the fact that the Saharawi leader had allegedly used an Algerian diplomatic passport with a false name to register in the hospital in Logroño where he was treated. 

Rafael Lasala also approached the judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Santiago Pedraz, who is investigating two cases against Ghali for alleged crimes of torture, illegal detention, genocide and crimes against humanity, to ask him to provide information about them. All of this with the intention of gathering information on the orders for Ghali's search and detention and on the police actions while the Polisario leader was in Spain. 

Visita del presidente de Argelia,Abdelmadjid Tebboune, al secretario general del Frente Polisario, Brahim Ghali, en el hospital de Argel
Visit of the President of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to the Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, at the hospital in Algiers

Along with Moroccan unease over Spain's handling of the Brahim Ghali affair, the Alawi kingdom also criticises the lack of firm Spanish support for its proposal to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, based on a formula of broad autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty for the Sahrawi territory. An option that has received significant international support, including that of the United States, both from the past administration of Donald Trump and the current administration of Joe Biden, who recognised the Moroccan sovereignty of the Sahara, as well as announcements of the opening of consulates of various nations in relevant enclaves such as Dakhla and El Aaiún. All this in the face of a proposal for an independence referendum advocated by the Polisario Front, which has little international support, such as that of Algeria.