La Rioja government sues Polisario leader Ghali to recover hospital bill

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La Rioja government sues Polisario leader Ghali to recover hospital bill

The Government of La Rioja in Spain has decided to take legal action against Brahim Ghali, leader of the Polisario Front, to recover the €45,658 bill for his 44-day hospitalization in 2021. 

This move comes after the regional government located an address for Ghali in Madrid.

Ghali’s hospitalization at San Pedro Hospital in Logroño sparked controversy as he entered Spain under a false identity while facing accusations of genocide, torture, and illegal detention. 

The Spanish government, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, authorized his treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia, triggering a diplomatic crisis with Morocco.

The La Rioja government, under the previous administration of Concha Andreu, initially refused to disclose the cost of Ghali’s treatment, citing privacy concerns and data protection laws. 

This inaction prompted criticism, and it wasn’t until the arrival of the current Popular Party (PP) administration that the figure was revealed.

Attempts by the Transparency and Good Governance Council to obtain the hospitalization cost proved unsuccessful on multiple occasions.

But with the PP in power, the La Rioja Health Service confirmed Ghali’s stay between April 18 and June 1, 2021, including his time in intensive care.

Two invoices were issued – one under the alias Ghali used upon admission and a second one sent in December 2022 after locating his supposed address in Madrid.

However, both attempts to collect the payment failed. Consequently, the La Rioja government has now opted for legal action through the civil court system.

“We have the obligation to collect this debt,” stated Alfonso Domínguez, Minister of the Treasury for La Rioja. He highlighted the importance of judicial assistance in this process, aiming to recover the funds owed to the public health system.

“It is a debt that we have the right to claim, because he received health care to which he was not entitled and assumed in writing payment for those medical services,” said spokesperson for the Rioja Executive.