The judge rejects the imposition of precautionary measures against Brahim Ghali

The Polisario Front leader will not be sent to provisional detention and his passport will not be withdrawn, so he will be able to leave Spain
People hold banners while protesting against Brahim Ghali, in front of the National Court in Madrid, Spain, on 1 June 2021.

REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ  -   People hold banners while protesting against Brahim Ghali, in front of the National Court in Madrid, Spain, on 1 June 2021

The judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Santiago Pedraz, ruled out applying any of the precautionary measures requested against Brahim Ghali, head of the Polisario Front, after testifying in court about the lawsuits filed against the Polisario leader himself. 

Ghali will not enter prison as a precautionary measure; moreover, his passport will not be withdrawn, so he can leave Spanish territory at any time. 

Brahim Ghali has rejected before the judge the alleged crimes he is accused of, related to allegations of genocide, torture, kidnapping, murder, rape, within the telematic appearance that has starred before the judge Santiago Pedraz of the Audiencia Nacional and after being questioned by the Prosecutor and his lawyer, as noted by the newspaper El País and according to legal sources. 

The accusations asked for unconditional imprisonment, while the public prosecutor did not request precautionary measures against the Polisario Front leader, as reported by the newspaper El Periódico. In this line, the magistrate finally agreed that Ghali should provide an address and telephone number in order to be located in Spanish territory, but did not restrict his freedom of movement, so that he will effectively be able to leave the country as soon as he recovers, as reported by the newspaper El Español. The judge pointed out that "no risk of flight can be appreciated", as El Español also indicated, according to the court order published by the newspaper.

Protesta contra Brahim Ghali, frente a la Audiencia Nacional en Madrid, España, 1 de junio de 2021
REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ - Protest against Brahim Ghali in front of the National Court in Madrid, Spain, June 1, 2021.

Ghali's statement was made virtually as a result of his admission to the San Pedro hospital in Logroño, where he arrived suffering from a coronavirus infection, according to several media outlets. Although other media also pointed to an alleged case of cancer. When Morocco requested explanations for the presence of the Polisario leader in Spain, the Spanish government limited itself to explaining that Ghali had been allowed to enter national territory for "humanitarian reasons", although the Alawi kingdom demanded further explanations and a more cooperative stance from Spain after welcoming the head of an organisation that is the subject of various accusations. 

According to legal sources confirmed to laSexta, Ghali's strategy was to refuse to answer the accusations and only respond to his lawyer, Manuel Ollé, and the prosecutor. Ghali's statement before the courts comes as he is in Spanish territory and it is the first time he has been tried in cases brought against him for alleged crimes of genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. The interrogation of Brahim Ghali by Santiago Pedraz has taken place due to the complaints filed by the Saharawi activist Fadel Breika, who accuses him of alleged torture and illegal detentions in the Tindouf camps, and by the Saharawi Association for the Defence of Human Rights (ASADEDH); This organisation accuses Ghali of alleged genocide "in competition with crimes of murder, injuries, illegal detention, terrorism, torture and disappearances" together with 24 other members of the Polisario Front and three officers of the Algerian army, allegedly, as reported by different media. The leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, was willing to commit himself this Tuesday before the judge of the Audiencia Nacional Santiago Pedraz to collaborate in the clarification of the facts he is investigating, remaining available and contactable to answer new questions in the future if necessary, according to legal sources, as previously reported by the newspaper El País. 

En esta foto de archivo del 27 de febrero de 2021, Brahim Ghali, líder del Frente Polisario, pronuncia un discurso en un campo de refugiados cerca de Tinduf, al sur de Argelia
AP/ARCHIVE - In this Feb. 27, 2021 file photo, Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali delivers a speech at a refugee camp near Tindouf, southern Algeria.

Brahim Ghali's presence in Spain was the trigger for a diplomatic crisis between Morocco and Spain, as the Alawi kingdom did not understand how Brahim Ghali had been given shelter in Spain and because the Spanish government had not cooperated by informing the North African country of this situation. The Spanish government stated that Ghali's arrival had to do with "humanitarian reasons" and that Morocco was considered a partner and ally, in any case. After learning of the Polisario leader's presence in Spain, various organisations such as ASADEDH and the Fórum Canario Saharaui called for him to be brought to justice for alleged crimes attributed to Ghali. 

Subsequently, the difficult situation of the arrival of thousands of migrants from Morocco in Ceuta became even more tense. All this in the face of Morocco's continuous requests for explanations from Spain for Brahim Ghali's presence in Spanish territory.

Protesta contra Brahim Ghali, frente a la Audiencia Nacional en Madrid, España, el 1 de junio de 2021
REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ - Protest against Brahim Ghali in front of the National Court in Madrid, Spain, June 1, 2021

From now on, it remains to be seen what will happen with Brahim Ghali to determine his immediate future. Although, for the moment, he has avoided the precautionary measures and can leave Spain. In fact, according to reports in various media such as El Mundo and El Confidencial, there was speculation about the possible presence of an Algerian plane ready to pick up Ghali and that the Spanish government might have expelled him as he did not have permits.

Also in the background of the controversy is the situation in Western Sahara. Morocco has received strong support for its autonomy formula for the region under Moroccan sovereignty, including from such important nations as the United States and the United Arab Emirates, even announcing the opening of consulates of various countries in strategic enclaves such as Dakhla and El Aaiún. Morocco has been lacking more Spanish support in this regard. All this in the face of the Polisario Front's demand for a referendum on self-determination, an initiative that has little international support.

Final part of the court order:

Vistos las disposiciones citadas y demás de general aplicación

DISPONGO: No ha lugar a decretar la prisión provisional ni otro tipo de medida cautelar personal contra D. Brahim Ghali.

Requiérasele a través de su representación para que aporte un domicilio y teléfono en España a fin de estar localizado. Póngase este Auto en conocimiento del Ministerio Fiscal y demás partes personadas a los efectos oportunos, previniéndoles que contra el mismo cabe recurso de reforma y/o subsidiario de apelación.

Lo acuerda y firma el Ilmo. Sr. D. Santiago J. Pedraz Gómez, Magistrado- Juez del Juzgado Central de Instrucción número Cinco. Doy fe.

Brahim Ghali