A court in Ghent (Belgium) has this morning decided to not extradite Spanish rapper Valtònyc. The judge says that Valtònyc's case falls within freedom of expression and, as such, exposed sending him to Spain. The singer expressed satisfaction over the decision, but suggested the case will go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.
Valtònyc, who has been in Belgium since the end of May, was sentenced by Spain's National Audience court to three and a half years in prison on charges of threats, glorifying terrorism and insulting the crown. The conviction was later confirmed by the second chamber of the Supreme Court. National, international and European arrest warrants are open against him.
Lawyer Gonzalo Boye, outside the court, highlighted that the judge believes that "there's no terrorism, nor any crime", that the rapper's songs "don't include anything criminal" and fall within freedom of expression.
No son delitos... se llama libertad de expresión— Gonzalo Boye (@boye_g) 17 de setembre de 2018
"I'm very happy to be able to be free and that they're not extraditing me, but very sad for my colleagues in Spain who aren't [free] and who aren't having fair trials," the rapper himself said in Ghent today.
"It's very sad we have to leave our home to find justice and be free," added the Mallorcan rapper. He expressed his thanks for the support he has received from the public and to his lawyers.
The court now has 24 hours to inform him exactly what his legal situation is in Belgium.
Prosecutors can appeal
It will now have to be seen if Belgian prosecutors appeal today's decision. Boye has indicated he doesn't expect they will in the end. They have thirty days to do so.
The hearing was originally scheduled for 21st August, but the judge postponed it to 3rd September, according to defence counsel, because they believed it to be a case of freedom of expression and not terrorism, the lawyers' argument at the time. Leaving that hearing, Valtònyc's lawyers expressed confidence he wouldn't be extradited.
The Mallorcan's lawyers argue that the requirement for dual criminality, ie that the charges he faces in Spain be crimes in Belgium too, is not met.
Hoy ya es un gran día en Gante... y ahí lo dejo #LibertadExpresióm— Gonzalo Boye (@boye_g) 17 de setembre de 2018
Belgium already discounted the charge of "terrorism" in August, one of the 32 charges that see automatic extradition under the European Arrest Warrant.