Protesters in Madrid and Barcelona clashed with the police on Wednesday over the arrest of Pablo Hasél, a well-liked rapper who had barricaded himself in a college to evade a jail sentence for violating Spanish legal guidelines limiting speech.
Mr. Hasél was arrested on Tuesday in Lleida, a metropolis west of Barcelona, after he failed to start serving a nine-month jail time period. He had been sentenced two years earlier on fees of glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy.
The case has galvanized huge public assist in Spain for Mr. Hasél and prompted the left-wing coalition authorities to say that it plans to overtake components of the felony code.
Protests over Mr. Hasél’s arrest started on Tuesday in Barcelona and different cities in Catalonia in northeastern Spain, the place supporters of a regional independence motion have typically clashed with the police. Hundreds of individuals took to the streets to demand his launch.
The demonstrations continued on Wednesday and expanded to Madrid, Spain’s capital, and different cities. Protesters had been seen throwing objects on the police, smashing home windows and setting rubbish bins on fireplace, The Related Press reported.
Journalists on the scene posted photos and movies on social media exhibiting giant crowds of supporters, a lot of them sporting surgical masks, chanting concerning the rapper and squaring off in opposition to teams of law enforcement officials in riot gear.
“Pablo, comrade, you aren’t alone,” one crowd chanted on Wednesday in Lleida, the Catalan metropolis the place Mr. Hasél was arrested.
The authorities in Madrid stated on Wednesday that entry to a central prepare station had been restricted on account of disturbances to “public order.”
Early information reviews indicated that dozens of protesters had been arrested or injured in run-ins with the police. A Reuters journalist in Barcelona was amongst these injured when officers fired rubber bullets right into a crowd, the information company reported.
Mr. Hasél, whose actual title is Pablo Rivadulla Duró, was a well-liked gadfly nicely earlier than he was sentenced to jail in 2018.
He has accused the Spanish police of brutality, in contrast judges to Nazis and expressed assist for ETA, a Basque separatist group that dissolved two years in the past after waging one among fashionable Europe’s longest terrorism campaigns.
In 2018, Spain’s Excessive Courtroom sentenced Mr. Hasél to only over two years in jail for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy. The fees targeted on his incendiary tweets and a track he had written about King Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014. A choose later decreased the sentence to 9 months.
Final month, Mr. Hasél was ordered to report back to jail by mid-Feburary. Greater than 200 artists later signed a petition demanding his launch.
The general public strain led the Justice Ministry to say on Monday that it deliberate to vary the nation’s felony code to scale back sentences associated to the sorts of speech violations for which Mr. Hasél had been sentenced. The ministry didn’t present specifics about its plan.
On Tuesday, Mr. Hasél was arrested after he and his supporters barricaded themselves inside a constructing at Lleida College.
“They may by no means silence us!” he yelled to reporters because the police led him to a patrol automobile, the newspaper El País reported. “Dying to the fascist state!”
In his final Twitter message earlier than he was incarcerated, Mr. Hasél issued a warning to his supporters.
“Tomorrow it may be you,” he wrote.
His supporters embody some Spanish politicians, the director Pedro Almodóvar and the film star Javier Bardem. Amnesty Worldwide referred to as his arrest “an extreme and disproportionate restriction on his freedom of expression.”
“Nobody ought to face felony prosecution just for expressing themselves on social media or for singing one thing which may be distasteful or stunning,” Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty Worldwide Spain, stated in an announcement hours earlier than Mr. Hasél’s arrest. “Expressions that don’t clearly and immediately incite violence can’t be criminalized.”
However the rapper’s authorized troubles might proceed for a while.
Mr. Hasél’s nine-month time period could also be lengthened to greater than two years as a result of he has refused to pay fines related along with his sentence, El País reported. The police are additionally investigating him for allegedly attempting to interrupt right into a authorities constructing in Lleida throughout a protest two years in the past over the detention in Germany of Carles Puigdemont, the previous chief of Catalonia.