Madrid - 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in custody on Tuesday a convicted child rapist who was arrested in Spain after a controversial pardon by Morocco's king was revoked in the face of angry protests.
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 was arrested on Monday at a hotel in the south-eastern Spanish city of Murcia where he once worked at a university after Morocco issued an international arrest warrant against him.
Police escorted the 63-year-old, who wore a white shirt and baseball cap with his hands in handcuffs behind his back, through the lobby of the hotel to a waiting police car, images on a video released on Tuesday by the interior ministry showed.
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The pardon was revoked by the king on Sunday, two days after baton-wielding police dispersed several thousand people who tried to rally in front of the parliament in the Moroccan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.
Popular anger at the case showed no sign of abating late on Tuesday as more than 2 000 people took to the streets in Morocco's largest city Casablanca.
This time however, there was a muted police presence and the demonstration passed off peacefully.
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 inquiry blamed his department for Galvan's release under royal pardon.
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 30 July, 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.
Galvan cannot be extradited back to Morocco under the terms of a bilateral agreement between the two countries, and an exception would have to be made if he is sent back to the North African nation.
He could serve out his sentence in Spain, a Spanish official said after talks on Tuesday with Moroccan officials in Madrid.
"It seems reasonable. If this person had not mistakenly received a pardon, steps would have been taken for him to serve out the sentence in Spain," said Angel Llorente, director of international co-operation at the justice ministry.
Galvan was born in Iraq but acquired Spanish citizenship after he married a Spanish woman whom 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 he was a former official in the Iraqi army who had worked with foreign secret services to oust Saddam Hussein.
El Pais said the secret services fabricated the name Daniel Galvan and the identity of retired professor, providing him with Spanish papers when they helped him leave Iraq.
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.