Friday, June 18

Violence over the rapper’s imprisonment shakes Spain for the third night | Spain

Spanish police and protesters have clashed for the third night as the backlash against the imprisonment of a rapper for controversial tweets continues.

Dozens of people have been arrested since Tuesday night when furious demonstrations broke out after police detained Pablo Hasél, 32, who had been locked up in a university in Catalonia to avoid going to jail in a freedom case. very controversial expression.

The violence has put the far-left party Podemos in the line of fire. The junior partner in Spain’s left-wing coalition has opposed Hasél’s imprisonment and has publicly supported the protesters.

Protests for freedom of expression erupt in Spain after the rapper's arrest - video
Protests for freedom of expression erupt in Spain after the rapper’s arrest – video

Police reported six arrests in Barcelona on Thursday after protesters erected barricades, prompting police to fire tear gas.

The center of the Catalan capital was filled with burning bins and furniture. Hooded youths threw rocks and bottles at police vans and damaged some vehicles.

The newsroom of the newspaper El Periódico de Cataluna was attacked, while TVE television showed clashes in the eastern city of Valencia.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of people gathered in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square demanding Hasél’s release, throwing bottles at the police, who attacked them in clashes that lasted several hours.

People demonstrate in support of Pablo Hasel in Vizcaya, in the Basque Country.
People demonstrate in support of Pablo Hasél in Vizcaya, in the Basque Country. Photograph: Javier Zorrilla / EPA

Police arrested 19 people, while city emergency services said 55 people were injured, including 35 policemen.

In Barcelona and three other Catalan cities, protesters threw objects at police and set fire to barricades on Wednesday, as police attacked protesters and in some places fired rounds of foam. About 50 people were arrested across the country.

The director of the regional police of Catalonia, Pere Ferrer, said that the agents face a “highly complex scenario” due to the “high volume of public disorder” that included looting.

The force opened an investigation after a young woman lost an eye Tuesday night in Barcelona as a result of a foam projectile used by police to dispel protesters, it added.

Police block a street in Barcelona on Thursday night.
Police block a street in Barcelona on Thursday night. Photograph: Miquel Benitez / Getty Images

Hasél, known for his far-left views, was arrested after failing to turn himself in on Friday to begin a nine-month sentence for tweets calling former King Juan Carlos I a mob boss and accusing police of torturing and killing people. protesters and migrants.

A court in his hometown of Lleida sentenced the rapper to another two-and-a-half-year prison term on February 12 for threatening to kill a man in a bar, according to a ruling published Thursday.

Hundreds of artists have joined Hasél’s cause, including filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem. Amnesty International said that jailing him for song lyrics and tweets was “unfair and disproportionate”, while activists say prosecuting him is a dangerous attack on freedom of expression.

The violence was roundly denounced by personalities from across the political spectrum with Socialist Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo saying it was indefensible.

“No right can be defended or expressed with violence. That is an absolute red line, ”he told public television RTVE.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was silent on the case and the protests, which have highlighted a growing divide between his socialists and Podemos, which grew out of the Indignados anti-austerity movement that held squares across Spain in 2011.

In the immediate line of fire was a Podemos deputy, Pablo Echenique, who publicly tweeted his support for the protesters as the clashes were raging.

“All my support for the young anti-fascists who demand justice and freedom of expression in the streets,” he wrote.

But much anger was directed at the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, also a deputy prime minister, who has criticized Hasél’s imprisonment and used it to question Spanish democracy.

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