– “She told me that the decision had been made. I don’t think it was her alone by herself and before herself. The Government is not a kingdom of taifa “.
Camilo Villarino, who was chief of staff of the minister Arancha González Laya and, for the moment, the only one investigated in the case of Brahim Ghali, does not believe that the decision to introduce the leader of the Polisario Front into national territory was taken directly by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. As he declared this Monday before the judge who is investigating the irregular entry of Ghali, it would have been a decision that was determined not by the head of his ministry, but above, pointing directly to Moncloa.
– “Was it coordinated with other charges?” the head of the Court of Instruction number 7 of Zaragoza, Rafael Lasala.
– The minister does not extend in these considerations. Yes, I have been able to confirm a posteriori that the minister and I were the only people in the Ministry aware of that decision that had been taken.
The diplomat declared this week as accused of the uncontrolled entry of the Polisario leader into national territory. The judge tries to resolve his responsibility in the alleged crimes of prevarication, personal concealment and embezzlement of public funds. Now, following this statement, the attorneys for the accusations, Antonio Urdiales and Juan Carlos Navarro, will require the judge to impute the former minister in the case.
According to his statement, to which EL ESPAÑOL has had access, the first news that Villarino had of the operation to introduce Brahim Ghali in Spain came four days before it took place. On Thursday April 15, Isabel Valldecabres, Director of the Cabinet of the former First Vice President of the Government Carmen Calvo, called him to ask if he knew anything about that matter.
“He asked me if it was true that it was being valued,” says Villarino. Laya’s right hand man declares to the judge that he replied saying that he had no idea what he was referring to.
He did not hear from this matter again until Sunday, April 18 at 10:30 in the morning. “I receive a message from the minister, asking me if I can speak to her. I say yes. I call her on a secure line. I don’t know what topic she wants to talk about.” And in that telephone conversation, Minister Laya tells Villarino, according to him, that “decision has been made to admit Brahim Ghali for humanitarian reasons in Spain “.
– “Had she taken it?”, The judge asks the only defendant in the case.
– “He told me that the decision had been made.”
Villarino affirms that the minister asked him for caution and secrecy due to the possible impact that this decision could have on relations with countries such as Morocco: “He tells me that it has been decided, it doesn’t tell me who, but I can imagine. And he tells me to take care of the logistics instrumentation for his arrival. Asks me to be as discreet and reserved as possible in the management of this matter because it is necessary to assess the impact that this may have on Spain’s relations with another third country by that you have not yet been informed of this decision“.
Passport is not required
Villarino also assures, before the judge, that he was not surprised when they told him that he arrived with an Algerian diplomatic passport. And that he trusted that, indeed, he carried it with him (“Well, it’s normal, why would they lie to him. It should be understood that he brings it with him […] At no time had they been told that they were not going to be requested. ”
The judge then interrupts Laya’s former right-hand man.
-But, was it verified that this man really had a diplomatic passport? I imagine that somehow the documentation that each one is going to bring is verified in a diplomatic mission. All the personnel that surrounds a high public position, that one is not made to go through customs, but it will be verified in some way …
– “I’m not sure it was done,” Villarino responds.
– “Was something similar done with Ghali, check the documentation they carried?”
– “No, I don’t know it was done.”
The diplomat apologized to the magistrate, arguing that they had no reason not to trust that Ghali would travel with the relevant documentation on him. And that is why afterwards they did not ask for it. “Knowing that entry could be allowed without passport control, knowing how he knew who was coming, believing that they were bringing the documentation as they had informed us they were bringing,” I understood that the decision was reasoned, reasonable and adjusted to the law, even if I can verify a posteriori that it may be the subject of legal controversy “.
I didn’t know who Ghali was
In revealing his version of events before the investigator of the case, Villarino, a diplomat with many years of experience in the north of the Sahara, Morocco and Algeria – and who has appeared before the court as a great connoisseur of the geopolitics in that region-, He defended himself arguing that he had no idea of the causes that Ghali had open in the National Court. He maintained that he was unaware of his pending accounts with the Justice for alleged torture or murder.
-Told him [la ministra] if Morocco knew that it had any open procedure in Spain? Were you informed?
– The question of the judicial procedures, that has gained force later, neither the 15th nor the 18th are in the panorama. It is not one of the issues on which I reason or react. It is not the problem or the reaction that I have been asked to be discreet. A posteriori, I can reason that it would have seemed quite absurd to me to secretly bring a person to Spain to hide them from the Spanish administration of Justice, for that reason they would have stayed in Algeria.
– At some point – continues the judge – they ask you: ‘we have to be discreet for Morocco because this man does not have an arrest warrant but there are generic location orders from two central investigating courts, that if will he find in Spain that at least the corresponding judge is told ‘? Was this valued? Did someone tell you that you had to be discreet about this?
-No one told me, it wasn’t on the radar. I did not know that there was that derivative of the Ghali affair.
That day of April 18, trigger of the diplomatic crisis with Morocco which resulted in a invasion from 10,000 immigrants crossing the fence in Ceuta just a month later, a plane from Algeria landed at around 7:30 p.m. at the Zaragoza Air Base. Ghali traveled within. With the false identity of Mohamed Benbatouche, was later registered at the Logroño hospital, where he was admitted to be treated for Covid-19. It is unknown if he carried his official documentation because no one demanded it.
At one point in the statement, Villarino claimed that he had in his possession a copy of Ghali’s real Algerian passport, the one the minister told him he was carrying when he entered intubated on April 18 on the way to the hospital. The accusations demanded that he contribute to the cause and be able to see the document. In it, the identity of a person born in Oran (Algiers) in 1949 was reflected.
The lawyers made the judge see that this document could be false, since Ghali had actually been born, according to what they assured, in 1948, a year before and in a different place than what appeared on the paper provided by the accused diplomat in the case. “How is a person going to be born in two different places in the interval of one year?”
From there, Villarino no longer wanted to answer.
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