Thursday, March 4, 2021

Catalan police arrest rapper convicted of insulting monarchy

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Pablo Hasél / Instagram

Rapper Pablo Hasél

Dozens of Catalan regional police officers entered the rectory of the University of Lleida on Tuesday to arrest the rapper, who was sentenced to nine months in prison for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy.

According to the agency EFE, a strong police device, formed by dozens of agents from the Mossos d’Esquadra and two dozen vans from the Mobile Brigade, was deployed since 6:30 am near the university to proceed to the arrest of Pablo Hasél, whose deadline to voluntarily surrender to serve the sentence ended last Friday.

The rapper locked himself in the rectory building of the University of Lleida, this Monday, “to make life as hard as possible for the police” before his imminent arrest, he told the Spanish agency, with the aim of making public what he considers be a “very serious attack” against freedom of expression.

Despite this, the police managed to easily bypass the barricades placed at the entrance to the building by 50 activists who supported the musician. The activists took refuge on the third floor of the building, while threw objects at agents, but they were finally cornered by the police, who proceeded to identify them. Inside the building there were also many journalists and photographers who spent the night with the activists and the rapper.

“They won’t shut us up, they won’t stop us, death to the fascist state”, shouted the singer, quoted by the newspaper Público, when he was arrested.

On Monday, the National Hearing again rejected the suspension of the execution of the singer’s prison sentence, recalling that, in 2017, he was convicted of a crime of resistance or disobedience to authority and, in 2018, of transgression.

“With this criminal record it would be absolutely discriminatory in relation to other criminals, and also a serious individual exception in the application of the law, totally unjustified, the suspension of the execution of the sentence to this convict ”, he argued.

The National Hearing added that “campaigns” in its favor “cannot determine the inapplicability of the current law, but [apenas] possible modification by Parliament ”.

“Persecution has become a constant”

On February 8, more than 200 personalities, including director Pedro Almodóvar and actor Javier Bardem, signed a manifesto calling for the rapper’s release and the law change, published in the newspaper The country.

“The persecution of rappers, tweeters, journalists, as well as other representatives of culture and art, for trying to exercise your right to freedom of expression, it has become a constant ”, they wrote.

“The Spanish State started to head the list of countries that most reprisals launched against artists for the content of their songs. Now, with the arrest of Pablo Hasél, the Spanish state is assimilating itself to countries like Turkey or Morocco ”, they criticized.

The facts for which the rapper was convicted date back to 2014 and 2016, when he published a song on YouTube and dozens of messages on Twitter, accusing the Spanish law enforcement agencies of torture and homicide.

In one of the messages, he wrote, next to a photograph of Victoria Gómez, a member of the Antifascist Resistance Groups First of October (GRAPO), an organization considered terrorist: “The demonstrations are necessary, but not enough, let us support those who have gone further” .

The singer also accused king emeritus Juan Carlos and his son, Felipe VI, of several crimes, including homicide and embezzlement.

The case motivated demonstrations in favor of the rapper and caused discomfort in the government, of a socialist majority. On Monday, the Spanish Executive promised a “reform” legislative so that “verbal excesses committed in the context of artistic, cultural or intellectual manifestations” are not criminally punished.

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Catalan police arrest rapper convicted of insulting monarchy