The King of Morocco promised to launch an investigation into the “regrettable” pardoning of a Spanish paedophile who may have once worked for Spain’s secret service after a wave of violent demonstrations across the North African country.
King Mohammed said on Saturday that he had not been made aware of the gravity of the offences committed by the prisoner, who was one of 48 jailed Spaniards given a royal pardon last week at the request of Spain’s King Juan Carlos.
Daniel Galvan Viña had served less than two years of a 30 year jail sentence after being convicted of raping 11 children aged between four and 15.
The 64-year old was released from prison in Kenitra, north of the capital last week, entering Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta on Thursday. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
News of the release of a prisoner responsible for such heinous crimes sparked protests across Morocco over the weekend during which dozens injured after clashing with police.
“The King had not been informed at any time of the nature of the crimes perpetrated by that person,” read a statement released by theMoroccan palace on Saturday.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco
The palace added that the monarch would never have agreed to the release had he known of “the atrocity of the monstrous crimes of which he was found guilty.”
“The King has ordered a thorough investigation to find out the responsibilities and failures that led to the regrettable release and to impose the necessary punishments,” it continued.
Reports in both the Moroccan and Spanish media suggested Viña’s release was “at the request of the Spanish secret service,” fuelling speculation that he was a spy.
“It was an agreement between the DGED (Moroccan secret service) and the Spanish equivalent (CSI),” a source from Morocco told Spain’s El Pais newspaper. “The Spanish insisted his name was put on the list and they achieved this.”
But another source quoted by the newspaper claimed that the CSI has denied any relationship with the prisoner. No official comment has been made.
Spain’s opposition socialist party on Sunday demanded that the Spanish government provide a full explanation over the affair.
“We urge the government to immediately provide an explanation and provide swift action to repair this error,” said Elena Valenciano, the shadow foreign minister on Saturday evening.
She will table a question in parliament on Monday asking for clarification as to whether the government “suggested a pardon for this man” and called for a quick response to “protect the authority of King Juan Carlos”.
It was thought that Viña may have been given a new identity by Spain’s secret service after working for them in Iraq during the fall of Saddam Hussein.
According to documents submitted by the Moroccan prison services, Viña was listed as a “Spaniard of Iraqi origin”.
He also reportedly told his lawyer that he was a retired professor at the University of Murcia, in southern Spain but there was no record of his having ever worked there.
The prisoners’ pardons formed part of the festivities of Throne Day, a celebration of the Moroccan monarchy on July 30 and came just after an official visit by Spain’s King to Morocco.
Protestors and civil rights groups criticised Viña’s inclusion in the pardon as “an international shame” that was seen as the state “defending the rape of Moroccan children.”