Haidar to give evidence in genocide case

The human rights activist Haminetu Haidar and 13 Saharawi refugees living in the Tinduf camp in Algeria have been called to appear as witnesses on March 9 and 10 in the investigation into genocide and torture committed in Western Sahara between 1976 and 1987, which the Audiencia Nacional opened in 2007. This is according to judicial sources quoted by the Europa Press agency.

Thirteen senior current of former police officials are charged with the crimes, including Hosni Bensliman, the head of the Moroccan royal gendarmerie since 1985. Bensliman is also facing an international arrest warrant for his presumed role in the murder of the opposition politician Mehdi Ben Barka in 1965.

The investigation into genocide and torture was opened after charges brought by the Audiencia Nacional judge, Baltazar Garzon, in 2007, but was frozen after a rogatory commission, that the country did not follow up, was sent to Morocco in October 2008. The magistrate Pablo Ruiz, who replaced Judge Garzon at the Audiencia Nacional’s preliminary section number 5, reopened the case in November and yesterday called 14 witnesses.

The inquiry is based on a complaint made in 2006 against 31 Moroccans charged with responsibility for the disappearance of 542 people, after Spain abandoned its former colony in 1975. The case also documents the death by torture of 56 Saharawi in Moroccan jails. After preliminary inquiries, Judge Garzon reduced the number of people being investigated from 31 to 13.



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