Algerian plane U-turns over Spain, Polisario leader pleads not guilty

Madrid, Jun 1 (EFE).- An official Algerian government plane attempted to land in Spain without proper permits on Tuesday and was forced to turn around, which coincided with the appearance of Western Sahara separatist leader Brahim Gali at a Spanish court.

According to radar data checked by Efe, the trail of the Gulfstream G-IV plane starts in Algiers at 9:30 am (11:30 am GMT), where the jet took off from a military airbase.

Spanish air traffic management Enaire told Efe the plane was a diplomatic “state jet.”

According to Enaire, air traffic controllers from the Balearic Islands were instructed by military controllers to request the Algerian plane to withdraw from Spanish airspace as it had no permission to transit through.

The plane’s projected route before its interruption plotted a course to land in Logroño, northeast Spain.

Polisario Front chief Gali has been hospitalized in Logroño for a month due to Covid-19, but is recovering and was allowed to appear Tuesday morning in court by videoconference.

He was summoned by National Court judge Santiago Pedraz to testify about genocide, torture and other charges against him, all of which he pled innocent to.

The judge decided not to remand Ghali in custody or confiscate his passport, stating that he did not present a flight risk and that the accusations against him lacked evidence.

The Polisario Front has been engaged in a conflict with Morocco for decades over the sovereignty of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony now claimed by Rabat.

The group is currently based in southern Algeria, causing a rift in Algerian-Moroccan relations.

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