In his lyrics, Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél refers to the emeritus king Juan Carlos I as a “mafia boss” and a “drunk tyrant” and accuses the police of torturing and killing protesters and migrants.
Hashe was arrested this Tuesday by the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan regional police) in the city of Lleida, about 150 km from Barcelona, in the northeast of Spain, for “glorifying terrorism” and insulting the monarchy.
The police entered the University of Lleida to arrest him, where the musician (whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro) had barricaded himself with a dozen supporters the day before, to avoid serving a prison sentence.
The rapper was sentenced to a sentence of nine months in prison for the crimes of “extolling terrorism and insults to the Corona and state institutions“ for his letters and messages on Twitter in which he attacks the monarchy and the police.
As it is the fourth sentence imposed on him, the Spanish judges have now decreed his entry into prison.
The musician’s arrest sparked protests in several Catalan cities, including Barcelona, which ended with clashes between police and protesters.
On Monday, the Spanish National Court again rejected the suspension of the execution of the sentence, recalling that in 2017 he was convicted of a crime of resistance or disobedience to authority; and in 2018, by breaking and entering.
In the sentence that condemned him in 2011, the Spanish court considered that freedom of expression did not protect “hate speech” and condemned him for including in his lyrics expressions such as “your shot in the neck does not give me pain.”
In 2017, a Lleida court imposed a fine on him for the verses addressed to the mayor of the city, Àngel Ros, in one of his songs: “Malborn Angel, you deserve a shot, I will stab you, you have ruined me, I will tear you away the skin in strips. “
The rapper was supposed to have turned himself in last week, but defied police orders.
Almost two hours after the police entered the university on Tuesday, Hasél was escorted out of the compound while shouting “they will never silence us, death to the fascist state.”
The musician was transferred to prison where he will begin to serve his sentence.
A Catalan police spokesman told AFP news agency that the officers had entered the university to “enforce the judicial decision.”
In defense of Hasel
More than 200 artists, including the film director Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, signed a petition against their sentence, which was confirmed by a Spanish court on Monday.
Amnesty International tweeted that Hasél’s arrest was terrible news for freedom of expression in Spain.
I will go to prison “with my head held high,” Hasél tweeted the night before his arrest. “We cannot allow them to dictate what we can say, what we can feel or what we can do,” he said, adding that he had chosen not to go into exile abroad.
The Spanish government announced last week that it planned to reduce the penalty for crimes linked to freedom of expression such as glorification of terrorism, hate speech or insults to the Crown and religion, in the context of cultural or artistic activities.
In a message, Pablo Hasél expressed his support for Victoria Gómez, an imprisoned member of the outlawed Marxist group Grapo. Elsewhere he accused King Felipe VI and his father Juan Carlos, ex-king, of a series of crimes.
Controversy over freedom of expression in Spain
Analysis by James Badcock, Madrid
Pablo Hasél has become the highest profile person to actually go to prison for a speech offense in Spain in recent years. But your case is only One of many that have caused controversy.
Several other interpreters or bloggers have committed the crime of “praising terrorism”, which has a range so wide that any example of justification of a terrorist act, even if it took place a long time ago, can lead to a conviction.
In 2018 the Supreme Court of Spain confirmed the prison sentence for the rapper Valtònyc for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy with his promises of bullets for right-wing politicians and a noose for the king.
Valtònyc fled to Belgium where a court decided to extradite him. This rapper continues to be wanted by Spain, which maintains an arrest warrant against him.
The year before, the Twitter user Cassandra Vera She had been sentenced to prison for simply making jokes about the murder of General Francisco Franco’s number two, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, in a bomb attack by militants of the Basque separatist group ETA, although she was exonerated after an appeal.
The government has promised to review the law. The legal framing of crimes of expression may seem like an academic, dry issue, but an explosion of graffiti in Spanish cities in defense of Hasél in recent days suggests that many of Spain’s young people believe that there is a real problem of freedom at stake. .
Hasél also supports the campaign for Catalan independence.
In 2017, Catalan separatists unleashed Spain’s biggest political crisis since Franco’s death in 1975. Sunday’s Catalan elections gave separatists a majority in the regional parliament.
* This note was updated to add details of Pablo Hasél’s judicial record.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.