Spanish judge tosses out suit against Polisario Front leader

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit against the leader of a movement seeking independence for Western Sahara from Morocco that had accused him of torture, genocide and other crimes.

Judge Santiago Pedraz said the 20-year statute of limitations had expired for the alleged crimes that Brahim Ghali had presumably committed between 1975 and 1990. The judge added that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation of genocide, which was only incorporated in Spain’s law code in 1995.

Ghali heads the Polisario Front and the self-declared Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic, based in refugee camps in western Algeria. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in the 1970s and the Polisario Front has long wanted to end Moroccan rule over Western Sahara.

Ghali was at the heart of a recent diplomatic spa t between Spain and Morocco that sparked a migration crisis in Spain’s northern African enclave of Ceuta.

In response to Spain allowing the 71-year-old Ghali come to Spain to receive medical treatment for COVID-19 in May, Morocco let down its border guard on the frontier with Ceuta and let thousands of people eager to reach Europe to cross over.

Judge Pedraz questioned Ghali by video conference from the hospital where he was being treated in early June before he was allowed to leave for Algeria last month.

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