The king of Morocco has revoked a pardon granted to a Spanish paedophile who may have once worked for Spain’s secret service, after his release sparked violent protests across the North African country.
A statement from King Mohammed said he “has decided to withdraw the pardon previously accorded to Daniel Galvan Viña”, adding that the justice ministry would discuss with Madrid “the next step after the pardon’s revocation”.
It said the “exceptional” decision was taken because of the “gravity of the crimes committed and out of respect for the victims’ rights”.
The announcement came shortly before a large demonstration was due to take place protesting the pardon. News of his release had sparked protests across Morocco over the weekend during which dozens were injured in clashes with the police. Sit-ins planned for Casablanca on Tuesday and Rabat on Wednesday were planned to still go ahead.
Viña, 64, had served less than two years of a 30 year jail sentence for raping 11 children aged between four and 15 when became one of 48 Spaniards released from prison last week at the request of Spain’s King Juan Carlos. He is understood to have entered Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta on Thursday. His whereabouts is currently unknown.
On Saturday King Mohammed ordered an investigation and claiming that he would never have granted his release had he known of “the atrocity of the monstrous crimes of which he was found guilty.”
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.
It was thought that he may have been given a new identity by Spain’s secret service after working for them in Iraq during the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Spain’s opposition socialist party demanded that the Spanish government provide a full explanation over the affair.
Elena Valenciano, the shadow foreign minister, will on Monday table a question in parliament 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”.
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.