20th June 2024
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Mallorcan rapper returns to Spain from Belgium after years avoiding extradition

A Mallorcan rapper who fled Spain after he was sentenced to jail for praising terrorism in his songs returned to the country on Sunday, after spending years avoiding extradition from Belgium. ALSO READ: Spanish rapper ‘Valtonyc’ wins his case against extradition in Belgium.

José Miguel Arenas Beltrán — better known as Valtonyc — fled to Belgium in 2018 after a Spanish court handed him a three-and-a-half year jail term on charges of glorifying terror, insulting the king and making threats in his lyrics.

His case sparked criticism from international organisations, such as Amnesty International, which argued his right to free speech was being violated, and Spain’s efforts to have him extradited ran into obstacles in Belgium’s courts.

The 29-year-old was able to move back to Spain on Sunday because his sentence had expired due to the statute of limitations, his lawyer told Spanish media.

Valtonyc was embraced by family members and other well-wishers when he arrived at the main airport on the island of Mallorca, where he is originally from, images on social media showed.

At a welcome ceremony attended by about 200 people later on Sunday in the town of Sineu in the centre of the island, he thanked his supporters, saying he ‘did not feel alone for not even one day’.

‘The worst part of exile is thinking that you have been forgotten, that you are alone and that what you went through has been for nothing,’ he added.

Valtonyc was sentenced for lyrics in songs published online in 2012 and 2013, at a time when he was a little-known rapper in the Balearic Islands.

These included: ‘Let them be as frightened as a police officer in the Basque Country’ and ‘the king has a rendezvous at the village square, with a noose around his neck’.

The reference to the Basque Country was understood as a nod to violence by ETA, the separatist group that for decades staged attacks across Spain that left more than 800 officials and civilians dead.

His lyrics have divided opinion in Spain, with some saying they would not land him in jail in any other democracy, while others stress that free speech has its limits.

ALSO READ: Rapper Pablo Hasél detained by police, after barricading himself in at Lleida University.

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