King Mohammed VI of Morocco said that he was “never informed of the gravity of the abject crimes” committed by the Spanish pedophile Daniel Galván Viña, who was on the list of convicts due for a royal pardon on occasion of the Feast of the Throne.
On the third day of one of the biggest scandals to rock his monarchy, Mohammed VI finally reacted with a televised statement in which he assured viewers that, had he known that Galván Viña was serving a 30-year sentence for abusing 11 children in Kenitra, he would never have signed his release. Royal pardons are in theory irrevocable.
The statement announced an internal investigation that will have consequences for the people involved in the mistake; it also called for proposals from the Justice Ministry to reform pardon proceedings and ensure that no such incidents take place in future.
The Moroccan royal house had apparently weighed the possibility of asking Spain to accept the transfer of Galván Viña to a Spanish prison to serve the 28 remaining years of his conviction, but ultimately decided against it.
Initial reactions to the royal statement on the social networks evidence some disappointment from Moroccans, who were hoping that the king would issue an apology much as Spanish king Juan Carlos I apologized after his hunting expedition to Botswana made headline news. There was also indignation at the fact that Mohammed VI signs documents without knowing their contents.
On Friday, thousands of Moroccans heeded an internet call to protest Tuesday’s pardon, but the public demonstrations were quickly and violently repressed by riot police, who charged even before the demonstrators had had a chance to call serious attention to themselves.
“They implemented preventive repression,” notes the economist Fouad Abdelmoumni, who joined other protesters in Rabat. “No more than 2,000 of us managed to gather together, but we would have been 10 times more without the repression.” Many people were wounded, including several journalists. In Rabat alone, 60 people were taken to hospital. Cries of “You free the pedophiles, you repress the people!” could be heard. “Shame on you!”
The pardon of a pedophile who had not yet served two years of his three-decade sentenced caused a scandal in Moroccan society. “This is the first time in Morocco that a personal decision by Mohammed VI is massively questioned,” notes Abdelmoumni.
In Spain, the Socialist Party announced it will ask the government for explanations regarding the pardon, since it was encouraged by Spanish intelligence services.