Belgian court of appeals rejects extraditing rapper Valtònyc
Sentenced in Spain to 3.5 years in prison for glorifying terrorism, threats, and insulting the monarchy, the Mallorcan artist exiled to Belgium in 2018
Belgian courts have again rejected extraditing Mallorcan rapper Valtònyc as Spanish authorities have requested.
Ghent Appellate Court turned down Spain's latest attempt at having the rapper returned to Spanish territory to serve a 3.5 year prison sentence, handed down in 2018, for glorifying terrorism, threats, and insulting the monarchy.
In the same year, the rapper left the country, pledging he "would not make it easy" for Spanish authorities to incarcerate him.
The prosecution now has 24 hours to appeal the decision but the musician's lawyers see it as "unlikely."
Leaving the court on Tuesday, Valtònyc said that on a personal level he is "happy" but that, at the same time, he feels "very angry and very helpless" for his fellow artists who are serving time in Spain for the contents of their lyrics.
"If Spain is a fascist state and is in the 18th century, it is because it wants to be," he added.
Valtònyc's lawyer, Simon Bekaert, hailed the ruling as a "good day for music and freedom of expression."
Victory ! After three years of legal procedures, a detour to the European Court of Justice and to the Belgian Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal rules that Valtonyc can not be extradited. A good day for music and freedom of expression. @valtonyc— Simon Bekaert (@Simonbekaert) December 28, 2021
The Ghent Appellate Court, handling Spain's extradition request, asked the Belgian Constitutional Court over a year ago if Valtònyc's case was covered by freedom of expression.
The country's first extradition request was rejected by a district court in September 2018, after which the Ghent Appellate Court asked the Court of Justice of the European Union if Valtònyc could be extradited for glorifying terrorism - they responded that he could not.
As a result of the Catalan-language rapper's case, the Belgian Constitutional Court struck down the country's own law against slander to the monarchy in October 2021.
According to the court, the 1847 law, which allows for up to three-year sentences for insulting the royal family, violates the right to freedom of expression as well as the European Convention on Human Rights.
"We have won and Belgium has removed lèse majesté from the criminal code," he celebrated in a tweet at the time.