Release of Daniel Galván on Sunday after serving barely two years of 30-year sentence sparked riots outside Morocco’s parliament
Daniel Galván’s arrest is the latest episode in a diplomatic farce that began with his release at the end of July along with 47 other Spanish prisoners held in Moroccan jails, the majority of them on drugs charges, after Spain’s King Juan Carlos allegedly appealed for their pardon.
He was released on Sunday after serving barely two years of his 30-year sentence for sexually abusing 11 children aged between three and 14, leading to riots in front of the parliament building in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
In response to the protests, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI revoked Galván’s pardon late on Sunday, saying he would never have granted it had he been aware of the seriousness of his crimes – but Galván had already left the country.
Initially there was speculation that Galván, an Iraqi with Spanish citizenship, was pardoned on the orders of Spain’s secret service, for whom he had allegedly been working as a spy in Iraq.
It then emerged that the Moroccan authorities had been presented with two lists by the Spanish government: one with the names of 15 prisoners to be pardoned, and the other with 33 prisoners to be sent to Spain to complete their sentences. The king mistakenly pardoned them all, including Galván, who went to Spain with the help of Spanish authorities.
The country’s royal palace then issued a statement saying that the king had not presented any list of prisoners and in fact had only interceded in the case of Antonio García Vidriel, a 58-year-old truck driver from Seville who is seriously ill. He was sentenced to six years in 2012 for smuggling hashish. In the event, García’s name was not among the 48 and he remains in prison while his son, who was serving 10 years for the same offence, was among those pardoned. The two were caught smuggling nine tonnes of hashish concealed in a shipment of watermelons.
It is now appears that the list of 48 prisoners was compiled not by the royal palace but by the Spanish embassy in Rabat, under the supervision of the Spanish foreign ministry. The fiasco has cost the chief of the Moroccan prison service his job, but as yet no heads have rolled on the Spanish side.
Galván, who abused children from poor families with single mothers whom he invited to parties in his house, was picked up by Spanish police in a hotel in Murcia after the Moroccan authorities issued a warrant for his arrest via Interpol.
Two senior Moroccan civil servants will arrive in Madrid on Wednesday to discuss the fiasco. They will be received by the international justice minister, Angél Llorente. Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, the Spanish justice minister, and his opposite number, Mustapha Ramid, pledged their “absolute co-operation” in resolving the situation.
Spain’s opposition socialists are demanding an explanation as to why the country’s authorities supplied Galván with an on-the-spot passport on his release from jail.
During his trial, Galván, whose victims were as young as three, was asked by the judge: “Why did you come to Morocco to abuse children?” He replied: “Because it’s cheap and with money you can get anything you want.”
His release led to demonstrations in several Moroccan cities that were violently put down by police.