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Home News Spanish rights group to file court case against Morocco

Spanish rights group to file court case against Morocco

Published on 15/11/2010

A Spanish human rights group said Monday it will file a court case against the Moroccan government over a raid on a protest camp in Western Sahara and the death of a Spanish citizen in the territory.

The complaint will target Morocco’s interior, defence and foreign ministers as well as the governor of Laayoune, the main town of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Rabat in 1975, a spokesman for the Spanish League for Human Rights said.

It will be filed at Spain’s National Court, which handles crimes against humanity and genocide, on Tuesday, he added.

Spain is one of a few countries to operate under the principle of “universal jurisdiction”, a doctrine that allows its courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture, terrorism or war crimes, under certain conditions.

One of the conditions is that a Spanish national be amongst the victims of the alleged crime.

The complaint will cite the case of a Spanish national of Western Saharan descent, Baby Hamadi Buyema, who was found dead on November 10 in Laayoune.

It is not clear whether Buyema’s death is directly attributed to the clashes which erupted in the city between Moroccan forces and local rebels.

The clashes followed Morocco’s crackdown on Monday on a camp near Laayoune housing thousands of Sahrawis who moved there to protest their living conditions.

Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which opposes Moroccan rule in Western Sahara, have offered vastly different casualty estimates from the clashes that erupted during the raid.

Spain’s foreign ministry has asked that Morocco explain Buyema’s death.

Morocco annexed the Western Sahara following the hasty withdrawal of colonial power Spain in the dying days of the regime of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, sparking a war with the Polisario Front.

The two sides agreed a ceasefire in 1991, but United Nations-sponsored talks on its future have since made no headway.