A rally against Brahim Gali, president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, in front of the National High Court, last June.Jaime Villanueva

Santiago Pedraz, investigating judge of the National Court, has filed one of the two cases opened in this judicial body against Brahim Gali, leader of the Polisario Front and president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), whose admission last spring to a hospital of Logroño due to coronavirus evidenced the intense diplomatic conflict that Spain and Morocco have been leading for months. Through an order issued this Thursday, the magistrate has agreed to shelve the complaint filed against the military by the Saharawi Association for the Defense of Human Rights (Asadeh), which attributed crimes of genocide against Sahrawi citizens between 1975 and 1990 Pedraz concludes that his responsibility in the facts has not been proven and that, in addition, these would have prescribed.

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The course of this case – Pedraz keeps alive another complaint filed by the activist Fadel Breica, a Spanish national, who accuses him of torture and illegal detention in the Tindouf camps in 2019. In addition, a Zaragoza court is investigating whether Gali’s entry in Spain this year it happened legally – it started in 2008, when Asadeh filed a complaint against the Polisario Front for crimes of genocide in competition with murder, injuries, illegal detention, terrorism, torture and disappearances. The magistrate of the National Court emphasizes that, according to the Penal Code in force when the alleged acts were committed, the crimes “would be prescribed by having exceeded the 20 years provided by law.” “In addition, the aforementioned Penal Code did not contemplate the regulation of the crime of imputed genocide, since it was the 1995 Penal Code that incorporated this crime and declared it imprescriptible,” the order adds.

The judge adds that the conduct described in Asadeh’s complaint does not include the “elements” necessary to be able to investigate a crime of genocide attributable to Gali. “The subjective element is not credited: the joint intention that guides, according to the complaint, the murders and torture of the dissidents to totally or partially destroy the national group to which they belong. There are no traces of those subgroups into which the Saharawi people are divided according to their geographical location. It is about forcing the norm to achieve the indicated qualification and to avoid the application of the figure of the imprescriptibility of the crime of genocide contemplated in the current Penal Code ”.

Pedraz’s account is devastating for the complainants. The instructor goes on to influence “the contradictions incurred by the testimonies of the witnesses who have testified throughout the investigation” about the Polisario leader. Despite the filing of this case against Gali, the complaint is still open against the rest of the defendants.

Last June, the Saharawi soldier testified before Pedraz by videoconference from a hospital in Logroño. Gali defended his innocence and rejected the accusations made against him in the two cases opened in the National High Court. “The facts that are the object of the accusation have been shown to be false”, summarized his lawyer, Manuel Ollé, after the interrogation: “Gali has said that this complaint has a political motive to undermine the dignity and credibility of the Sahrawi people, as well as his struggle on the road to self-determination that corresponds to him as a territory ”.

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