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Belgium refuses to extradite Spanish rapper accused of insulting the monarchy

Monday, 17 September, 2018 - 17:39

A Belgian court has rejected a request from Spain to extradite the Spanish rapper Valtònyc to face charges of insulting the monarchy, the Ghent Public Prosecutor announced on Monday.  The artist was sentenced in his country to three and a half years in prison in Spain for “apologising for terrorism” and “insulting the Crown” in his songs. The Spanish courts had issued a European arrest warrant against Josep Miquel Arenas, whose stage name is Valtònyc.

Born in Mallorca, the rapper was sentenced by the Baleares Court in 2017 for glorifying terrorism in his lyrics, as well as insulting the Crown and making death threats against politicians. A high court upheld the ruling in February despite protests across the country.

The artist was to appear on May 24 at the Spanish court to begin serving his sentence but he chose to flee to Belgium instead.

Referring to texts intended to “shock people’s conscience”, Valtònyc has always defended himself from instigating anyone to physically attack anyone, although he once called for “killing a Civil Guard” during a concert.

“After watching ‘Kill Bill’, are you going to start slicing people’s throats with a katana?” No, people understand that it’s art, and what’s behind it is political and ideological persecution,”he pleaded at the beginning of July at a press conference in Brussels.

The rapper’s lawyer was satisfied with the decision that Ghent council chamber rendered on Monday. “Today is a great day in Ghent,” Gonzalo Boye wrote on his Twitter account. “It’s not about crime … It’s called freedom of expression,” he said in a second tweet.

Former Catalan independence minister Carles Puigdemont, who is also living in Belgium while he is being prosecuted in Spain for “rebellion”, “sedition” and “malpractices”, also welcomed the news on the social network.

Spain’s new Socialist government has said one of its priorities is the revision of the “gag law” under which Valtònyc was charged.

 


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