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Belgium examines arrest warrant for fugitive Spanish rapper

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Belgium examines arrest warrant for fugitive Spanish rapper
A poster at a protest against the Gag Law. File Photo: AFP
08:44 CEST+02:00
A Belgian court is examining a European arrest warrant issued by Spain for rapper Valtonyc, who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for praising terrorism in his songs, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Jose Miguel Arenas Beltran -- better known as Valtonyc -- is just one of several Twitter users and rappers who have recently been tried in Spain for glorifying terror or insulting the king, causing concern over free speech.   

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On Sunday, the 24-year-old musician from Mallorca published a blurry photograph on his Twitter account showing a canal and a red and white tourist boat typical of the Dutch-speaking city of Ghent in northwestern Belgium.   

"We received a European arrest warrant, the procedure is under way," said Caroline Jonckers, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office in the province of East Flanders, confirming information in Catalan daily Ara.

Spain's National Court, which last year found the 24-year-old guilty of glorifying terror, insulting the king and issuing threats in his lyrics, had issued the warrant at the request of prosecutors who said he was "at large."

The warrant for Valtonyc comes just months after Catalan separatist leaders went into exile, also in Belgium, to escape Spanish authorities over their role in a failed secession bid.

Beltran was sentenced for lyrics 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 hinted at 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 should not land him in jail in a democracy, while others stress that free speech has its limits.

READ MORE: The ten most repressive points of Spain's gag law

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