King Mohamed VI of Morocco on Sunday revoked a pardon granted to a Spanish serial pedophile whose release sparked angry protests in the kingdom, a palace statement said.
The king “has decided to withdraw the pardon previously accorded to Daniel Galvan Vina,” said the text of the statement, published by the official MAP news agency.
It said the “exceptional” decision was taken because of the “gravity of the crimes committed and out of respect for the victims’ rights.”
Although several media reports have said Vina has left the country, the agency said the minister of justice would discuss with Madrid “the next step after the pardon’s revocation.”
This “opens the way for Rabat to request the pedophile serves in a Spanish jail” the 28 years remaining of his sentence, Spain’s ambassador to Morocco, Alberto Navarro, told Spanish daily El Pais.
The king’s announcement came shortly before a demonstration against the pardon, after baton-wielding police dispersed protests on Friday.
Hundreds gathered in Kenitra, north of the capital, where Vina was imprisoned, according to a reporter on the scene.
The protest took place under a heavy police presence, but passed off peacefully.
Demonstrators expressed satisfaction at the king’s actions, but continued to press for explanations as to how the initial pardon could have been granted.
Sit-ins planned for Casablanca today and Rabat tomorrow were still due to go ahead.
Vina, said to be in his sixties, was pardoned by the king and freed on Tuesday last week from jail.
He had been sentenced in September 2011 to 30 years in prison.
Convicted of raping 11 children aged between four and 15, Vina was among 48 Spanish prisoners released in response to a request from Spanish King Juan Carlos, who visited Morocco in the middle of last month, the justice ministry said.
In Spain, the opposition socialist party demanded explanations from the government.
Earlier, the palace said in a statement carried on MAP that the king had been unaware of the nature of the man’s crimes and had ordered a probe into his release.
The investigation should “determine the responsibilities and the failures that led to this regrettable release,” the statement said.