Ex-foreign minister quizzed over letting Polisario chief into Spain

The former Spanish foreign minister defended the decision to see the leader of the Polisario Front to deal with COVID-19. Arancha González Laya …

The former Spanish foreign minister defended the decision to see the leader of the Polisario Front to deal with COVID-19.

Arancha González Laya is under investigation for taking Western Sahara leader Brahim Gali to Spain in April.

The former minister told reporters on Monday that Gali’s entry into Spain was “in accordance with the law”.

González Laya had previously testified personally before a judge in Zaragoza, which led to a diplomatic crisis with Morocco.

“In my opinion, the entry was made according to the law,” she said, “I hope the judge will come to the same conclusion soon.”

Gali arrived in Spain on April 16 at an air base in Zaragoza and traveled on a medical plane from Algeria. He was then admitted to a hospital in Logroño in critical condition for treatment for the coronavirus.

The Saharawi independence leader is a sworn enemy of Rabat who claims sovereignty over Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.

Its entry into Spain angered Morocco, and soon more than 10,000 migrants entered the Spanish enclave of Ceuta after Moroccan authorities relaxed controls.

González Laya was summoned for questioning after his chief of staff – who was also investigating him – admitted that he had received instructions from the former minister to facilitate entry into Gali with “maximum discretion”.

The Zaragoza judge had heard that the publication of Gali’s entry into Spain could “harm” Spain’s international relations.

The investigation seeks to know whether the Spanish authorities allowed Gali to enter the Schengen area without documents or border controls.

Morocco alleged that Gali entered Spain “fraudulently” with an “attacked identity”, but Spain denied the allegations.

The Zaragoza judge will seek evidence of alleged crimes of forgery, excuse and cover-up by senior State Department officials.

González Laya resigned from the Spanish cabinet following a reshuffle in July.

Meanwhile, Spain’s national court also refused to prosecute Gali on Monday over genocide legal formalities.

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