Spanish rapper’s extradition verdict delayed amid constitutional query

A court in Belgium has postponed issuing a ruling on the extradition of the Spanish rapper Valtonyc.

The artist, whose real name is Josep Miquel Arenas, was sentenced in Spain to three and a half years in prison for writing lyrics praising terror groups and insulting the Spanish royal family.

But, in 2018, he fled to Belgium. Spain later demanded his extradition.

The court in Belgium had been due to announce a verdict today (September 15) but it was delayed pending opinion on the matter from Belgium’s constitutional court.

“We still have in Belgium a law that’s like from the 1800s making it an offence to insult the king,” said Simon Bekaert, Valtónyc’s defence lawyer.

“Now the court asks the constitutional court if this kind of law is not a breach of freedom of speech, a breach of fundamental rights as guaranteed in our constitution, as guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights.”

In Belgium, lèse-majesté, an offence towards the royal family, remains a criminal offence.

The postponement comes after Spain’s former monarch, Juan Carlos I, fled the country for the United Arab Emirates amid official investigations in Madrid and Switzerland into possible financial wrongdoing.

The Belgian court is expected to deliver a verdict regarding Valtonyc’s extradition on December 3.

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