Spain has yet to respond to raised questions from Morocco about the hospitalization of Polisario's leader.
Rabat – Spain and Algeria are facing international pressure for arranging for Polisario’s Brahim Ghali to receive medical care in Logrono, a city in northern Spain.
Spanish news outlet La Razon reported that the Polisario leader’s arrival in Spain was “negotiated at the highest level between Spain and Algeria.”
Last week, Algeria helped Ghali to travel to Spain under a fake identity and an Algerian passport to receive medical care after he tested positive for COVID-19, the report noted.
The separatist leader presented himself in Spain as Mohammed ben Battouch, an Algerian national living abroad.
According to converging media reports, including from El Pais, one of Spain’s most reliable news sources, Ghali is receiving COVID-19 treatment in the European country.
For now, however, neither Polisario nor the Algerian government, the separatist group’s strongest supporter, have announced where Ghali is receiving his medical care. Observers are interpreting the deafening silence of both Algiers and Madrid as an attempt to cover up Ghali’s location or even deny having anything to do with his medical trip.
With no notification from Madrid, Morocco managed to detect Brahim Ghali’s arrival to Spain through its intelligence services, Spanish reports have revealed.
In Algeria, meanwhile, media outlets close to the government have also been uncharacteristically silent about Ghali’s condition and his current location.
But Algerie Part Plus, a news outlet known for its trenchant nationalism and its ideological affinity with Algiers’ military establishment, has publicly condemned Algeria’s decision to invest hundreds of euros on Brahim Ghali while Algerians face a series of deepening socio-economic crises.
Amid news of Morocco’s displeasure with Madrid’s “deplorable attitude” in welcoming Ghali, the Spanish government is playing the typical “plausible deniability” card and arguing that the Ghali episode should not affect the “excellent relations” between Morocco and Spain.
For many observers, however, Algiers could not have secured a medical trip for Ghali without due authorization from Spain, where the separatist leader is facing a pile of serious accusations, including genocide, kidnapping, torture, and abuse.
The Spanish National Court received a litany of complaints against Ghali in 2008 and 2016 for multiple crimes against Spanish citizens at the Phosboucraa industrial site, near Morocco’s southern city of Laayoune, in 1974. The attacks took place between 1974-76.
Pablo Ruiz, a judge at the Madrid-based court, summoned Brahim Ghali to court in 2008 and 2016 for his alleged crimes.
Ghali has since been avoiding international travel to avoid facing trial.
With news that the wanted Ghali is now in Spain at the behest of Algeria and following “highest level” instructions from Spanish authorities, Spain is now at the center of controversy for helping the Polisario leader access its territories without taking legal procedures against him.
The International Organization for Human Rights and Defence of Public Freedom (IOHRDPF) is requesting the “immediate” arrest of the Polisario leader.
For their part, the lawyers of Ghali’s victims have lodged yet another complaint at Spanish courts requesting that the Polisario chief be arrested while in Spain.
Morocco condemned Spain’s decision to host Polisario, raising a set of questions that are against Rabat-Madrid ties.
The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday that it summoned the Spanish ambassador in Rabat to clarify his country’s decision to host Ghali despite the legal action against him in Spain.
“Why has the Spanish justice not yet reacted to the many complaints filed by the victims?” the ministry said. The question spoke both of Rabat’s surprise and disappointment at such an “incomprehensible” move from a country it sees – until now, at least – as a “traditional” ally and “a good neighbor.”
But there was more disappointment than surprise, as the Moroccan ministry’s statement went on to stress. By opening its doors to Ghali, it said, Spain made a decision that is against “the spirit of partnership and good neighborliness and which concerns a fundamental issue for the Moroccan people and its vital forces.”