Spanish court opens investigation into ex-minister’s role in hospitalizing the Polisario leader

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Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya speaks to the media in front of the Foreign Ministry in Madrid, Spain, May 18, 2021. REUTERS / Juan Medina / File Photo / File Photo

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MADRID, September 21 (Reuters) – A Zaragoza court on Monday opened a formal investigation into the role of former Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya in admitting Western Saharan leader Brahim Ghali to a Spanish hospital in April.

An examining magistrate will investigate whether something illegal happened when the leader of the independence movement Polisario was allowed to enter Spain from Algeria, where he lives, and when he was hospitalized in the city of Logrono, a spokesman for the Zaragoza tribunal said Tuesday .

Gonzalez Laya is being interrogated as part of the investigation, she added. A former top advisor is also being investigated.

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Gonzalez Laya did not return a message for a comment. At the time she said that Ghali was allowed to fly to Spain on humanitarian grounds and that the decision was legal.

Ghali landed at the Spanish Air Force Base in Zaragoza while suffering from a severe COVID-19 case in April and was hospitalized in Logrono. Almost two months later he returned to Algeria. Continue reading

Ghali’s presence in Spain enraged Morocco, which briefly eased border controls to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in May, causing a sudden influx of migrants into the Spanish autonomous city. Continue reading

The Algerian-backed Polisario Front is fighting for the independence of Western Sahara, a Spanish colony that was claimed by Morocco until the mid-1970s.

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Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo; Arrangement by Steve Orlofsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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