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MOROCCO

Spain detains paedophile pardoned by Morocco

A judge remanded in custody on Tuesday a convicted child rapist who was arrested in Spain after a controversial pardon by Morocco's king was revoked in the face of angry protests.

Spain detains paedophile pardoned by Morocco
Galvan was born in Iraq but acquired Spanish citizenship after he married a Spanish woman who he has since divorced, the court said. Photo: AFP/Ministerio del Interior

The judge ruled that Daniel Galvan Vina, a Spanish national found guilty of raping 11 children aged between four and 15 in Morocco and sentenced to 30 years in prison there, was a flight risk and would remain in custody while his extradition was being considered, the court said.

Galvan, 63, was arrested Monday at a hotel in the southeastern Spanish city of Murcia where he once worked at a university after Morocco issued an international arrest warrant against him.

Morocco is seeking the extradition of Galvan, who was among 48 Spanish prisoners pardoned by King Mohamed VI and freed last week from jail following a visit in mid-July to Morocco by Spain's King Juan Carlos.

The pardon was revoked by the king on Sunday, two days after baton-wielding police dispersed several thousand people who tried to rally in front of the parliament in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

A royal palace statement said the king had been unaware of the nature of Galvan's crimes and on Monday the Moroccan monarch dismissed the director of prisons after an enquiry blamed his department for Galvan's release under royal pardon.

King Mohamed invited the families of the victims to his Rabat palace on Tuesday to offer them "moral support and help them recover from the wounds caused by Galvan's atrocities and governmental mistakes".

Galvan's name appeared on a list of 30 Spanish prisoners in Morocco whom Madrid had asked to be sent home to serve out their sentences, a source close to the dossier told AFP.

The Spanish embassy in Morocco also sent a separate list of 18 people it wanted pardoned, the source added.

King Mohamed pardoned all 48 Spanish prisoners including Galvan on Throne Day on July 30, an annual holiday celebrating Morocco's ruling family and often a day of royal pardons.

The Moroccan justice ministry said Galvan and the 47 other Spanish prisoners received the royal pardon in response to a request from Spain's king.

But Spain's royal household said Juan Carlos had not asked for the release of Galvan or any other Spanish prisoner during his visit and had only shown interest in the wellbeing of Spanish nationals held in prisons in the north African country.

Spain and Morocco do not allow their citizens to be extradited to each other's country and an exception would have to be made if he is sent back to the north African nation.

The case is also complicated by the fact that in Spain the government can not revoke a pardon.

Galvan was born in Iraq but acquired Spanish citizenship after he married a Spanish woman who he has since divorced, the court said.

He has lived in several countries including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Britain and Morocco, it added.

The affair has caused embarrassment in both Morocco and Spain, with questions being raised about Galvan's background.

Daily newspaper El Pais reported that Galvan told his Moroccan lawyer that he was a former official in the Iraqi army who had worked with foreign secret services to oust Saddam Hussein.

The name Daniel Galvan was "an identity that was fabricated by secret services when they got him out of Iraq, they provided him with Spanish documentation and converted him into a retired professor from Murcia," the newspaper said.

Galvan worked at the University of Murcia until 2002, before moving to the Moroccan port of Kenitra in 2005. He told his neighbours there that he was a retired professor, daily Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported.

Galvan lacked "family, social, economic or work links that would neutralise the temptation to put himself beyond the reach of the justice system if he was set free," Spain's top criminal court, the National Audience, wrote in its ruling.

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IMMIGRATION

Morocco puts brakes on migrant flow as Spain and EU pay out

The number of migrants arriving by sea in Spain has plunged with Morocco stopping boat departures since signing lucrative agreements with Madrid and Brussels, experts say.

Morocco puts brakes on migrant flow as Spain and EU pay out
Migrants climbed over the fence in Ceuta to reach Spain earlier this month.Photo: AFP

So far this year 15,683 migrants have arrived by sea, 45 percent down on the first eight months of 2018, according to Spanish interior ministry figures.   

Spain became the main entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe in 2018 after Italy closed its ports and Greece began sending migrants back to Turkey under a 2016 agreement with the European Union (EU).

But that is no longer the case. The most used migrant sea route to Europe is once again from the  eastern Mediterranean to Greece,  the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Moroccan authorities are stopping boats from setting sail to Spain “whereas before they let them leave”, said Jose Encinas of the AUGC Guardia Civil police association in the southern region of Andalusia where most migrants
land.   

A migration expert at an international organisation, who asked not to be named, said: “Moroccan maritime police have deployed means at strategic spots, especially in the north” to curb migrant departures to Spain.

'Migration card'

Eduard Soler, a North Africa geopolitics specialist at Barcelona think tank CIDOB said “Morocco has realised that the migration card is a very effective pressure tool”.

“Times when bilateral relations between Morocco and Spain were difficult have coincided with a rise in (migrant) arrivals in Spain and when they have improved there was a dramatic drop (in arrivals),” he added.

The arrival of migrant ships in Spain had soared in the six months before Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took power in June 2018.   

He promptly dispatched ministers to Rabat before visiting the Moroccan capital himself in November for talks with King Mohammed VI.   

A state visit followed in February 2019 by Spain's King Felipe VI abd 11 bilateral agreements were signed covering energy to cultural cooperation.   

“There was then a radical drop in the number of migrant arrivals. This does not seem like chance. Morocco decided to change its policy” said Soler.   

The number of migrant arrivals by sea fell to 936 in February 2019 from 4,104 in the previous month,  IOM figures show.   

“When Morocco wants more money, it opens the tap of immigration and when it receives money, it closes it,” said Encinas.   

Spain in August approved €32 million ($35 million) to help Morocco control illegal migration.

In July, Madrid authorised spending €26 million to supply Morocco's interior ministry with vehicles.

EU money

A renegotiated fisheries agreement between Morocco and the European Union– which was approved by the European Parliament in February on the eve of King Felipe's state visit — has also warmed ties between Brussels and Rabat.   

On a visit to Morocco on Wednesday, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska hailed the “police cooperation” between the two countries which had led to a “significant decrease” in migrant arrivals.

Within the EU, Madrid continues to highlight “Morocco's crucial importance as a strategic partner for migration and other issues,” he added.   

The EU gave Morocco €140 million last year to help manage migration.    

“And that seems little,” Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said last week, before adding Europe should do more for Morocco.   

While Madrid praises its cooperation with Rabat, human rights groups accuse Morocco of forcibly preventing migrants form boarding boats to Spain.

By AFP's Laurence Boutreux 

READ MORE: Ceuta: 155 migrants force entry into Spanish enclave

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