Furious Moroccans plan more protests over paedophile

Moroccans furious over the pardon of a Spanish paedophile convicted of raping 11 children between four and 15 years of age, are planning more protests after demonstrations were brutally repressed Friday.

Social media sites have called for protests in Casablanca and Rabat on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Others were already held outside the Moroccan embassy in Paris on Saturday and in Kenitra, where the man had been held.

Baton-wielding police on Friday night dispersed several thousand people who tried to protest in front of parliament in Rabat. Dozens were injured, including reporters and news photographers, and some had to be hospitalised.

Other demonstrations in Tanger and Tetouan were also broken up by police.

Daniel Galvan Vina, said to be in his 60s, was pardoned by King Mohammed VI and freed on Tuesday from jail in Kenitra, north of the capital.

He had been sentenced in September 2011 to 30 years in prison.

Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid confirmed the royal pardon, but declined to comment further on the details of the case.

Galvan was among 48 Spanish prisoners released in response to a request from Spanish King Juan Carlos, who visited Morocco in mid-July, the ministry said.

"This individual will be extradited and he will be forbidden from entering Morocco," Ramid told AFP on Thursday.

Galvan is thought to have already left the country.

Protesters slammed the pardon as "an international shame" with one demonstrator saying the state "defends the rape of Moroccan children".

One young woman student told AFP: "This is the first time I have been to a demonstration because I am outraged by this pardon which has set this paedophile free."

Hakim Sikouk, who also took part in the Rabat protest, told AFP: "I was with a group of friends in front of the parliament when the police intervened violently. I was hit on the head."

In June, thousands of Moroccans marched in Casablanca to condemn paedophilia and violence against children in the north African country.

On June 20, police arrested a suspected British paedophile after local residents overheard screams from a six-year-old girl he allegedly abducted.

And in May, a Casablanca court jailed a 60-year-old Frenchman for 12 years after convicting him of paedophilia.

Abdelali Hamieddine, a senior member of the ruling moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development, said the pardon was a "mistake".

"Moroccans have the right to demonstrate when they feel humiliated and the authorities do not have the right to step in so violently," he added.