Valtònyc extradition case comes to an end as Belgian public prosecutor rules out appeal
Court had rejected sending rapper wanted for glorifying terrorism and insulting monarchy to Spain
Catalan-language rapper Josep Miquel Arenas Beltrán will not be extradited from Belgium after the country’s public prosecutor’s office decided not to appeal a Ghent court’s ruling on Tuesday, thus putting an end to a years-long legal battle to have him serve a three and a half year sentence in Spain.
Known as Valtònyc, the Mallorcan musician was found guilty of glorifying terrorism, threats, and insulting the monarchy with his lyrics, but left for Belgium in 2018 to evade imprisonment.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Ghent Appellate Court rejected sending him back to Spain, and although public prosecutor had 24 hours to challenge the decision, it has decided against doing so.
"Insults to the king of Spain are not a crime in Belgium," one of the musician’s lawyers, Simon Bekaert, said shortly after the court decision was announced.
"I decided to come here due to a matter of fundamental rights and in the end, this has been the case," a visibly relieved Valtònyc told reporters outside the court.
"I have defended freedom of expression as much as a I could since I was 18 when this all began," he said, adding that Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel, whose arrest in February 2021 on similar charges sparked a wave of unrest, should be released.
This is not the first time a Belgian court has ruled against sending the rapper back to Spain to serve his sentence – another court issued a similar ruling only last December, but this was then appealed by the public prosecutor.
As glorifying terrorism and threats were ruled out as grounds for his extradition, Valtònyc’s case was retried exclusively on the basis of lèse-majesté, a crime that no longer exists in Belgium.
Indeed, the country’s own slander against the monarchy law, from 1847, was struck down in October due to Spain’s ongoing attempts to extradite the rapper.
The Belgium Constitutional Court removed it from the criminal code after determining that it violated the right to freedom of expression as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.