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article imageKing of Morocco mistaken for people smuggler off Ceuta shores

By Anne Sewell     Aug 25, 2014 in World
Ceuta - In a rather embarrassing incident, Spain's Civil Guard apprehended King Mohammed VI of Morocco while he was enjoying a summer boat trip in waters more commonly used by drug smugglers and human traffickers. Faces were red and apologies have been made.
Reportedly it happened in early August. The King was out on the water, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, just off the coast of the Spanish enclave of Ceuta on the North African coast. The Civil Guard noticed his Majesty's two speed boats and three jet skis and moved in for the arrest.
The problem is that in the last few years, drug smugglers and the human traffickers have both employed similar vessels to ply their trade off the coast. The coastal authorities had no choice but to take action and the officers involved ordered the vessels to immediately stop.
According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the officers then asked the occupants of the boats to identify themselves.
In probably a rather haughty tone, King Mohammed VI, who was wearing a cap and sunglasses, shouted to the officers, “Do you not know who I am?”
The officer's immediate response was "no." However, when the King proceeded to remove his cap and sunglasses, one of the other officers immediately recognized him. Apologies were profuse and the officers allowed the party to proceed on their way.
However, King Mohammed wasted no time in calling his Spanish counterpart, the newly-minted King Felipe VI, to let him know what had happened and how angry he was over the incident.
Reportedly Felipe and the Royal house have a good relationship with Morocco's King and immediately contacted Spain's Interior Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz to craft a suitable apology for the embarrassing gaffe.
Fernández responded by ordering his government delegate in Ceuta to send Lieutenant Colonel Andrés López, along with a couple of other high-up officers in the Civil Guard, out to the Royal speed boat immediately to make amends.
The three officers made profuse apologies to the Moroccan monarch, who responded by shaking hands with them and telling them they “had done their job perfectly.” He said that if they are punished "there would to be problems," but he did add, however, that he had not been respected during the incident.
According to diplomatic sources quoted by El Mundo, there has been a huge influx of clandestine immigrants since the incident occurred, with over a thousand sub-Saharan Africans arriving in Melilla, Spain's other north African territory, in the last two days. The sources theorize that this may have been a direct result of the more relaxed border controls during King Mohammed's holiday at sea.
Spanish sources:
El Mundo
Europa Press
The Local
More about Ceuta, king mohammed VI, civil guard, guardia civil, Illegal immigrants
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