Majorcan rap singer Valtonyc appeared today before a Ghent court following the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued against him by Spain’s National Court. However, Valtonyc was not questioned because the judge adjourned his decision until September 3.
“I am delighted because here I’m free. Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart, the exiled Catalan ministers and the Altsasu lads (1), as well as many others in Spain, cannot have a fair trial”, Valtonyc remarked as he was leaving the courthouse. “I am delighted because an automatic extradition has been denied and now the matter needs to be looked into. This means that my case is gaining momentum, growing in size and Belgium’s justice system will be independent, as I am confident it is”, said a hopeful Valtonyc.
According to the singer’s legal counsel “the judge has decided to delay his decision” because “it is a matter of principle” and they wish “to discuss his case because it involves fundamental principles, such as free speech” and they do not want to “rush” into a decision. Valtonyc’s lawyer has been given until September to state his case in writing and then the judge will hand down his decision. Even though another delay cannot be ruled out, the singer’s lawyer believes that a decision on September 3 is more likely.
The legal team’s main argument is that the crimes which Valtonyc was found guilty of by a Spanish court do not exist in Belgium’s criminal code, which is a requirement for an EAW to be carried. Furthermore, they argue that Valtonyc’s lyrics [slamming the Spanish king] are an exercise of free speech, not a criminal offence. In March last year Strasbourg’s Court of Human Rights found Spain guilty of having unjustly fined two young Catalans for burning photos of King Juan Carlos when the court ruled that the plaintiffs were merely using their freedom of expression. They were awarded €14,000 in damages. The same legal sources indicate that this line of defense will also be used in Valtonyc’s case.
The Majorcan rap singer entered the Flanders courthouse at half past nine and he spoke briefly to reporters to say that he was feeling “calm”. He was accompanied by a close friend and the exiled Catalan Minister for Culture, Lluís Puig.
Valtonyc fled Spain to avoid being jailed after receiving a three and a half year prison sentence for glorification of terrorism, humiliation of terror victims, slander and insults against the Crown and threatening Jorge Campos, the chairman of Actúa Baleares. He has been living in Belgium since before May 23 and appeared before a local judge in July, when he was released on condition that he remained in Belgium. He now lives in Ghent and works in IT, although he is still pursuing his musical career.
(1) Several young men from Altsasu (Navarre) are in prison facing serious criminal charges for getting into a late night bar brawl with off-duty Guardia Civil officers.