On Thursday the rap singer appeared before the Belgian examining magistrate who had summoned him following a European Arrest Warrant issued by Spain’s Audiencia Nacional, a major crimes special court. The singer was released on parole while Belgium’s justice decides whether to grant his extradition to Spain, as requested by Spain six months ago.
After appearing in court, the rap singer allowed himself to be seen in public for the first time since his move to Belgium. At a press conference Valtonyc explained why he left Majorca and gave details of his new life in Ghent, the city in Flanders where he resides nowadays.
Josep Miquel Arenas (Valtonyc’s real name) stated that he “wasn’t hiding at all” but cooperated with Belgium’s justice as soon as he arrived in the country. He also stressed that he expects Belgium will dismiss the European Arrest Warrant issued against him. “In the case of the Catalan exiles, Belgium’s justice system has shown that it is fair and independent, on the side of rationality. I hope that [the Belgian judges] will understand that I just wrote some songs, that’s all. Just songs”, he said. “I have every faith in Belgium and Europe’s justice”, he emphasised.
A job as a web designer
Valtonyc explained that he is living in Ghent and doing IT and web design work, which he had studied for back in Majorca, and living a normal life: “By day three I’d got a job, a home and a mobile phone”. He also pointed out that people have been very kind to him and Belgians are surprised to hear that he was given a prison sentence over some song lyrics. “The lads here freak out when they hear that I’m a fugitive”.
During the press conference, the rap singer denounced “the erosion of democracy” in Spain. He decried that “in Spain there are people in jail for holding a referendum, which proves that mine is not an isolated case, an attack just on Valtonyc. We are not allowed to sing, we are not allowed to tweet nor vote as a people”. And he added that his crime is “to be left-wing, a communist and an independence supporter. Clearly none of that is legal in Spain”, he added.
After appearing in court, the artist was not remanded in custody but released on parole and he is free to travel about in Belgium while another judge determines whether to grant his extradition to Spain. Nevertheless, the court did order a number of precautionary measures, such as the prohibition to leave the country and the obligation to report any change of address.
The news was first posted on Twitter by lawyer Simon Bekaert, the son of Valtonyc’s attorney Paul Bekaert, who provided Carles Puigdemont with legal counsel when a European Arrest Warrant was issued against the Catalan president.
Hoy es un gran día.— Josep Valtònyc🎗️ (@valtonyc) 5 de juliol de 2018
España ya no juega en el mundial pero yo sigo en cuartos de final.
Rueda de prensa en Bruselas hoy a las 17h comentando el partido y las jugadas clave.
Roncero no llores. pic.twitter.com/P5ptiNbn0F
Another day, another case. This morning #Valtònyc presented himself for the Belgian judge of instruction due to EU arrest-warrant Spain issued. Judge ruled no need to put him in police custody. Another judge will rule over the extradition later. Meanwhile free on Belgian soil.— Simon Bekaert (@Simonbekaert) 5 de juliol de 2018
Valtonyc fled Spain before May 23 to avoid being sent to prison after he was sentenced to three and a half years for glorification of terrorism and humiliating the victims (two years), slander and grave insults against the Crown (one year) and threats against Jorge Campos, the president of Actúa Baleares (six months).