Wednesday 10/20/21
DIPLOMATIC CONFLICT

Spain keeps head of Western Sahara independence movement out of jail

Spain, which ruled Western Sahara as a colonial power until 1975, does not recognize Morocco's territorial claims.
FILED - 27 February 2021, Algeria, Tindouf: Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali speaks during a military parade marking the 45th anniversary of the declaration of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), near the south-western Algerian city of Tindouf, considered as the Sahrawi capital in exile. Photo: STR/dpa
Sahrawi President Brahim Ghali speaks during a military parade marking the 45th anniversary of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Photo: STR/dpa.
A leader of the Western Sahara secessionist movement whose stay in Spain led to a migration crisis with Morocco will not be remanded in custody, the Spanish national court ruled on Tuesday.

The Polisario Front's Brahim Ghali has been receiving treatment for Covid-19 in Spain since April 18. He is under investigation for crimes including genocide, terrorism and torture, based on accusations by blogger Fadel Breica and rights organisation ASADEH.

The court however ruled that there was no immediate danger of Ghali fleeing or destroying evidence. The accusations were also not supported by substantive evidence he had committed a crime, it found.

The ruling is sure to anger Morocco, which claims large parts of Western Sahara. Polisario is fighting for the territory's independence.

The government in Rabat is already furious that Ghali is not being prosecuted in Spain. The "core of the crisis" is Spain's "ulterior motives that are hostile" to the question of Western Sahara, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Relationship deteriorated

Spain, which ruled Western Sahara as a colonial power until 1975, does not recognize Morocco's territorial claims.

The relationship between the two countries has recently deteriorated.

Two weeks ago, Morocco loosened border controls at Spain's North African exclave Ceuta, leading to more than 9,000 migrants reaching the territory. Spain afterwards accused Morocco of "blackmail."

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