Lawyer of Polisario’s Ghali to ask Spanish high court to drop war crimes case

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The lawyer of Brahim Ghali, a leader of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front who is in hospital in Spain, will ask the Spanish High Court to drop a war crimes case against him.

“The facts which form the basis of the accusation against him are absolutely and categorically untrue,” lawyer Manuel Olle told reporters after a hearing on Tuesday.

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Ghali, who appeared remotely in court, said the allegations were politically motivated and denied any wrongdoing, according to Olle.

The Polisario Front leader has been treated in a hospital in Logrono, in northern Spain, after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

The move, which the Spanish government says was a humanitarian gesture, has angered Morocco and led Rabat to relax border controls which allowed thousands of migrants to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta.

Ghali’s Algeria-backed Polisario Front is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, which was a Spanish colony until the mid-1970s and is since considered by Morocco as part of its own territory.

Tuesday’s proceedings were a preliminary hearing, the first step toward a potential trial. Ghali and other Front leaders are accused by human rights groups and Western Sahara individuals of genocide, murder, terrorism, torture and disappearances, a court document said.

Mariana Delmas, a lawyer for the prosecution, said she had sought preventative measures against Ghali to stop him leaving the country.

“I asked for them because it is very clear to me, it looks to me that he will flee,” she told reporters.

Olle said his client, who travels on an Algerian diplomatic passport, will stay in Spain until the case is resolved. He insisted Ghali is still in poor health.

Read more: Morocco warns Spain ties could worsen over Polisario

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