Just as Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is making an official visit to Morocco, Spain’s Office of the Public Prosecutor accused Morocco of genocide in Western Sahara.
El Mundo has reported that the famous prosecutor Balthasar Garzón has been instructed to start legal process ‘against the Moroccan officials and military officers for genocide, torture, kidnapping and disappearances practiced by the Kingdom of Morocco against the Sahrawi people’. Thirty-two high Moroccan officials have been named.
Several Sahrawi human rights organizations and solidarity groups in Spain apparently called for the proceedings under international law. Most of cases involved occurred between 1975 and 1980.
El Mundo wrote, ‘Between the 32 defendants are several generals and leading figures in Moroccan politics in last the three decades’. Included is Driss Basri, former Interior Minister outseted by King Mohammed VI in 1999 shortly after the latter ascended to the throne. Sahrawis call the exiled Basri ‘Butcher Basri’. He now lives in Paris.
The case also names several former and serving officials in the numerous security bodies. The accused include some of the most powerful figures in Morocco’s makhzan (the royal-state apparatus of control):
• Hamidou Lanigi, ousted head of National Security, leading member of the Old Guard
• Yasine Mansouri, a royal advisor and intelligence czar
• Abdellaj Kadiri, former DST director
• Abdelaziz Benani, Chief of Staff for Morocco’s armed forces
• Housni Bensliman, head of the Royal Gendarmerie
• Ali Benhima, National Security Chief in the Moroccan occupied Western Sahara
• Abdelhafid Benhachem, Basri’s former aid
The indictment claims that ‘from the 31 of October of 1975 to the present, the Moroccan Army has exerted a permanent violence against the Sahrawi people, first in a predatory war that forced a large part of the Sahrawi population, more than 40,000 people, to flee to the desert, being persecuted and being bombed by the aggressor’s forces with napalm, white phosphorus and cluster bombs, being thrown to the void from helicopters, creating a state of terror and persecution … that last to the present time’.
The dossier apparently contains a list of 206 Sahrawis who ‘disappeared’ at the hands of Moroccan security agents. It adds ‘the disappearance of thousands of people, of who at least 526 Sahrawi, still today, remain in that situation, without their relatives having some knowledge of their whereabouts, and the Moroccan state’s denial of further information to them’.
El Mundo (March 6, 2007), ‘La Fiscalía pide a Garzón que investigue a altos cargos marroquíes por genocidio; Informa a favor de la admisión de una querella por los delitos cometidos contra cientos de saharauis desaparecidos, la mayoría de ellos de nacionalidad española / Entre los acusados está el ex director general de la Seguridad Nacional de Rabat’ by Manuel Marraco, p16.
AFP-Spanish, ‘Sahara: fiscal español pide instruir demanda por genocidio contra marroquíes’
(March 6, 2007)