Riot police broke up a protest by hundreds of Moroccan demonstrators late last night against a royal pardon for a Spanish paedophile serving a 30-year sentence for raping and filming children as young as four years of age.
In running clashes with the demonstrators, baton-wielding police prevented them from gathering in front of the Moroccan parliament in the centre of the capital Rabat, injuring several people including journalists.
The convicted paedophile is among 48 jailed Spaniards who were pardoned by King Mohamed VI on Tuesday at the request of Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who visited Morocco last month.
“We are here to know who is responsible for that pardon. It is a shame, they are selling our children,” Najia Adib, president of Don’t Touch My Children association, told Reuters moments after she and her teenage daughter had been attacked by riot police.
The demonstration followed an online campaign by outraged activists. Protests were also reported in several other cities in the North African country.
Protesters demanded that the royal pardon be revoked and the Spaniard be brought back to jail. The government said the man had been expelled to Spain.
Hamid Krayri, a lawyer for families of the victims, named the paedophile as Daniel Vino Galvan and said he had been convicted 18 months ago by criminal courts in Kenitra, near Rabat, of raping and filming children aged between 4 and 15.
“He is a retired Spaniard who owns two flats here in Kenitra,” Krayri, who is a member of Morocco’s Human Rights Association, told Reuters. He said he had filed a complaint against Galvan three years ago when activists showed him discs containing footage of the Spaniard and his victims.
The royal palace made no immediate comment, but the Justice Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the pardon had been issued based on Morocco’s national interests under the friendly relations between the two countries.