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RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's king said on Saturday he did not know the gravity of the offences committed by the Spanish pedophile whose royal pardon sparked violent protests, and promised an investigation.
"The king has ordered a thorough investigation to find out the responsibilities and failures that led to the regrettable release ... and to impose the necessary punishments," the palace said in a statement released late on Saturday and carried by state news agency MAP.
"The king had not been informed at any time of the nature of the crimes perpetrated by that person," the statement said, adding the king would never have agreed to the release of Daniel Galvan Fina if he had known "of the atrocity of the monstrous crimes of which he was found guilty".
The pedophile, who was serving a 30-year sentence, was among 48 jailed Spaniards who were pardoned by King Mohamed VI on Tuesday at the request of Spain's King Juan Carlos, who visited Morocco last month.
Late on Friday, Moroccan police broke up a protest in the capital, Rabat, by hundreds outraged by the pardon. The Spaniard was convicted 18 months ago by criminal courts in Kenitra - near Rabat - of raping children aged 4 to 15.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement on Friday the pardons had been issued based on Morocco's national interests and its friendly relations with Spain.
The king often pardons prisoners on special occasions, such as Throne Day last Tuesday, but the decision to release the Spaniards at the request of the monarch of a former colonial power riled many Moroccans.
Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Peter Cooney