The Court of First Instance in Ghent, Belgium has rejected the Spanish request for the extradition of Majorcan rapper Valtonyc, real name Josep Miquel Arenas. He fled to Belgium shortly before being obliged to enter prison to serve a 42-month sentence because of lyrics which had exalted terrorism and insulted the Crown, among other things.
Valtonyc's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, said after learning the court's decision yesterday that Belgian justice was in line with what is "right". In Spain the rapper was sentenced. In Belgium freedom of expression has been defended. "None of the lines in his songs had criminal content." "It is a great day," he stated, but added that the decision could be subject to appeal by the Belgian prosecution service. If it were to be appealed, this would be despite the Ghent court having made a clear ruling regarding freedom of expression.
Among reaction to the court's decision was a tweet from exiled former Catalonia president, Carles Puigdemont, who stated that Europe is a space for liberty, deeming acts by "certain states" to be unacceptable. Antoni Reus, spokesperson for Més, called on the Spanish government to pardon Valtonyc.
The prosecution service has indeed decided to appeal the Ghent ruling. Meanwhile, a Belgian legal expert has explained that the country's law does not contemplate crimes for being an apologist for terrorism or for insulting the Crown, while for threats - with which Valtonyc was also charged - these are only crimes if they are written down. If they are verbal, they are not considered to be.