Following a wave of outrage and protests, the king of Morocco has revoked a pardon he had earlier granted to a convicted Spanish pedophile. The Spaniard, Daniel Galvan Vina, who is convicted of raping 11 children ages four to 15, was one of 48 imprisoned foreign nationals freed by a royal pardon by King Mohammed VI. The edict triggered angry and violent protests by hundreds of demonstrators outside of the parliament building in the capital city of Rabat on Friday. Demonstrations also took place in the cities of Kenitra, Tangier and Tetouan, as well as outside the Moroccan Embassy in Paris.
Vina, who is reportedly in his 60s, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a Moroccan court in September 2011. He was also ordered to pay €4,800 ($6,360) each to the families of eight of his victims. He had not served even two years of his sentence. Palace officials claimed the king was “unaware” of the magnitude of his crimes. But Vina has since left the country and his whereabouts are unknown. Morocco's Justice Ministry said the pardons (of Vina as well as other convicted Spaniards) were motivated by the desire to maintain "friendly relations" with Spain.
According to Morocco’s official Maghreb Arab Press news agency, the Justice Ministry will confer on "the next step" concerning Vina. The Guardian newspaper of London reported that, assuming Vina has returned to his native Spain, the Spanish ambassador in Morocco could agree to allow Vina to serve the remainder 28 years of his sentence in a Spanish prison.
But the Vina story does not end here. According to Lakome, a Moroccan online newspaper, Vina is actually an Iraqi who served as a spy for Spain’s national intelligence agency, CNI, which requested his release. Vina (obviously not his real name) was working as an intelligence operative for Saddam Hussein’s regime before the Spanish took him and moved him to Rabat about eight years ago. Lakome claims that in Rabat, “Vina” took advantage of poor and vulnerable children by photographing and sexually abusing them.
However, the sordid saga of Daniel Galvan Vina is nothing new in Morocco, a country where many pedophiles from around the world, especially Europe, journey to in search of illicit and illegal sex with minors. Only two months ago, a British man, Robert Bill, 59, was arrested in Tetouan, a northern coastal city, on suspicion of having abducted and raped a 6-year-old girl. Bill is also suspected of having sex with another underage girl in the nearly town of Chefchaouen a few days earlier. In May, a 60-year-old Frenchman got 12 years in prison upon conviction in a Casablanca court of pedophilia.
Long before these men arrived in Morocco, other pedophiles had been traveling to the poor North African country to engage in sex with children. One of the most disturbing aspects of European colonialism and imperialism in Africa, the Middle East and Asia involved the sexual abuse and exploitation of local young boys by European men. There exist a multitude of accounts of such episodes -- especially of the British in India and the French in North Africa (where a legal age for consent simply did not exist or was not enforced).
In a book called “Homosexuality and Colonialism,” author Robert Aldrich cites the behavior of well-known Britons and Frenchmen like T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), Henry Morton Stanley, E.M. Forster and Andre Gide, among others, who engaged in pederasty in conquered lands. Aldrich wrote of North Africa: "The visitors from the British Isles (and soon, the Frenchmen) knew that cafe waiters, flute players, and other young men were willing to provide sexual favors. A little money went a long way, and youths were abundant ... By the time Gide arrived, local ephebes [adolescent boys] had a well-developed practice of offering themselves for sex: the gestures and propositions were well-rehearsed, and they proved expert at seducing European men by approaching them, offering food, a tour or some small service.” Gide himself documented and boasted of his sexual adventures with underage boys in his books “The Immoralist” and his autobiography “If I Die.”
Other famous Westerners who (allegedly) committed acts of pederasty in North Africa included Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, William Burroughs and many others. In a letter to Robert Ross, a homosexual journalist and later his literary executor, Wilde wrote a passage rich in hidden meaning and symbolism: “There is a great deal of beauty here [in Morocco]. The Kabyle [Berber ethnic group] boys are quite lovely… the mountains of Kabylia [are] full of villages peopled by fauns… We were followed by lovely brown things from forest to forest.”
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.