Tens of thousands of Moroccans, outraged by King Mohammed VI’s royal pardon of a Spanish paedophile who was convicted of raping 11 children, are expected to converge outside the North African nation’s parliament Friday night.
Morocco’s king traditionally pardons prisoners as a part of festivities for the nation’s celebration of its monarchy, Throne Day, July 30, but this year, news of 62-year-old Daniel Galvan Vina’s released caused an uproar on social media.
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Where previous demonstrations largely addressed inequity and specific instances of corruption in the public sector, the protest on Friday night will directly address an edict of King Mohammed VI.
“This is the first time Moroccans directly contest a particular decision of the king,” Fadel Abdellaoui, one of the demonstration’s organizers told Al Jazeera. “Usually, they protest against the government, individual concepts, etcetera. Today, it’s a decision of the king.”
Galvan – last on the government’s list of 48 released detainees – was released on Wednesday and left the country on Thursday, his lawyer Mohammed Benjeddo told Al Jazeera. Galvan owned two apartments in Morocco, Benjeddo said.
Galvan was convicted by a local court of raping and filming children between the ages of 3 and 14 from 2003 to 2010.
“He is sick. He has a double personality,” Benjeddo said. “He has a lot of money. He came to Morocco and exploited his money to realise his sexual fantasies. Let him leave Morocco. Let people be.”
The victims’ lawyer said Galvan had preyed on children from low-income families.
“He targeted fragile children, from poor families, living on the outskirts of Kenitra (in northwestern Morocco),” the lawyer representing the children, Hamid Krayri, told Al Jazeera.
“He was facing a 30-year sentence from the Moroccan court system, but he was pardoned after two years, seven months.”
Moroccan state media said the royal pardons resulted from the monarch’s meeting with his counterpart, King Juan Carlos I, last month.
“On His Majesty Juan Carlos I’s recent visit to the Moroccan Kingdom, the Spanish monarch asked His Majesty the King [of Morocco], may God be his guide, to pardon 48 Spanish nationals, convicted by various tribunals in the kingdom,” the official statement read.
‘Nothing can be done’
Madrid has said it cannot take any action in the matter.
“We cannot judge him again,” a spokesperson for Spain’s Attorney General told the newspaper El Diario.
“Nothing can be done. It’s an internal decision. We are not going to do anything,” a spokesperson for the Spanish royal family told the paper.
Krayri will meet with human and children’s rights groups at the parliament building on Friday night to discuss further legal action to contest the royal edict.
“The power to pardon is limited by the new constitution,” that was re-written and voted into effect in response to calls from the February 20th movement, Krayri said.
“It’s a big injustice. Huge,” Abdellaoui said. “The guy rapes at least 11 kids and goes free.”
In less than a day, nearly 20,000 people signed up on Facebook to join in the rally in Rabat, the nation’s capital on Friday, at 1 pm, local time.
Abdellaoui said if police do not arrest protestors, it will set a precedent in a country where many rights activists say the post-Arab Spring constitution has done little to relinquish the monarch’s absolute power to elected officials.
“Moroccans should feel comfortable to quesion the king’s decisions if everything goes OK,” he said.