By ARITZ PARRA
MADRID (AP) – The leader of the movement for the independence of Western Sahara in the midst of a conflict between Spain and Morocco will appear before an investigating judge in Spain on June 1, representatives of the Polisario Front announced on Wednesday in Spain.
Brahim Ghali heads the Polisario Front and the self-proclaimed democratic Sahrawi Arab Republic based on refugee camps in western Algeria. He is recovering from COVID-19 at a Spanish hospital, where he checked in with a false identity after arriving in the country with an Algerian diplomatic passport.
His presence angered Rabat, which annexed Western Sahara in the 1970s, and was linked to the sudden arrival of more than 8,000 migrants – many of them unaccompanied children – in a Spanish enclave in North Africa that shares a border with Morocco.
The Moroccan government has said it will not reinstate its ambassador to Madrid if Ghali leaves Spain with the same secrecy used for his arrival in mid-April and without responding to allegations of genocide and other possible crimes including anti-groups. Polisario accuse him.
A Polisario official, who has not been authorized to be named in media reports, said Ghali would comply with a summons from the National Court to testify on June 1 “in a demonstration of the Polisario Front’s confidence in the justice”.
Investigating judge Santiago Pedraz rejected the plaintiffs’ requests, including a Sahrawi rights association aligned with Moroccan interests, aimed at arresting Ghali. It also gives Ghali the opportunity to testify by videoconference from Logrono, the northern town where the 71-year-old was hospitalized.
Ghali had refused to sign a subpoena given to him in mid-May, according to a police affidavit seen by the Associated Press.