Brussels backs exiled rapper's arguments against extradition

Valtònyc "optimistic" after EU Commission tells high court in Luxembourg that singer's offenses predate legislation underlying arrest warrant 

Exiled rapper Valtònyc in Brussels on September 16, 2019 (by Nazaret Romero)
Exiled rapper Valtònyc in Brussels on September 16, 2019 (by Nazaret Romero) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 16, 2019 05:58 PM

The European Commission agreed with the lawyers of Valtònyc in the hearing of the rapper's extradition case held in the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday that the arrest warrant for the singer issued by Spain was unlawful.

Valtònyc's defense argues that the rapper should not be extradited from Belgium, where he went to avoid arrest, because the warrant from Spain's National Court is based on legislation passed in 2015, while the offenses for which the singer was convicted go back to 2012.

Valtònyc, whose real name is Josep Miquel Arenas, fled to Belgium to avoid arrest in May 2018, days before he was due to begin a prison sentence of three and a half years for slander, defaming the crown, and glorifying terrorism in his lyrics.

Despite the arrest warrant issued by the Spanish judiciary, a court in the city of Ghent released the rapper on bail and referred his extradition case to the EU's Court of Justice to rule on which Spanish antiterrorism law applies in his case.

Speaking after the hearing, Valtònyc told reporters that he was "optimistic" that his extradition will be refused, adding that "anyone who studies law knows that you can't commit an offense if it has still not come into effect."

The Advocate General of the ECJ will announce the court's conclusions on the case on November 26.

Freedom of expression appeal

Meanwhile, Valtònyc has also taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, basing his arguments on Article 10 of the European Convention, which protects freedom of expression.

The rapper says he wants his case to become a "precedent" to protect other artists from prosecution, and is confident the Strasbourg court will uphold his right of freedom of expression, as it did with two men charged with burning images of the Spanish king.