Spain urged to halt deportation of activist to Morocco

Campaigners ask Spain to grant Hassanna Aalia, accused of killing members of Moroccan security force, political asylum.

Mainly desert, Western Sahara has been the entrenched in decades-long dispute between Morocco and the sole representative of the indigenous Sarahar inhabitants, the Polisario Front. [AFP]

Campaigners have demanded that Spanish authorities halt the deportation of rights activist, Hassanna Aalia to Morocco over fears that he will be tortured after being sentenced over unrest in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

On Thursday activsits urged for Aalia, 26, be granted political asylum in Spain but government authorities have turned down his request.

The rights campaigner is accused of killing members of Moroccan security forces during unrest in 2010 after authorities raided a protest in which Aalia was one of the organisers.

The protest drew tens of thousands of native Sahrawis in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony now controlled by Morocco.

Eleven security force agents and two Sahrawi civilians died in the clashes.

Aalia has continued to deny any wrongdoing but stated that he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia by a Moroccan military court in 2013, while he was studying in Spain.

“If I go back there, I face jail for life and all kinds of torture and mistreatment,” he told AFP news agency.

Aalia said his lawyer was preparing to lodge a last-minute appeal against his deportation at Spain’s National Court.

Hunger strike 

It is not certain whether he could be deported before the appeal runs its course.

Aalia has alledged that Spain was refusing asylum in an effort to protect its economic relations with Morocco. 

“This is a political case. Economic interests are being placed above all else,” he said.

His supporters have staged a five-day hunger strike at Barajas, Madrid’s airport which ended on Wednesday.

The group later handed a petition demanding asylum for the rights campaigner to the interior ministry.

The petition was signed by 150 groups including branches of the left-wing Podemos party and the leading trade union, the General Union of Workers (UGT).

The Spanish Human Rights Association warned that Spain was breaching international human rights treaties by denying Aalia asylum.

“The expulsion order could be a death sentence to this person,” it said. It accused Morocco of “repression” in the territory.

Source: AFP