A 32-year-old Scotsman, resident in Catalonia, who took part in protests against the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél in Barcelona has been sentenced to 5 years and 1 month in prison. Barcelona's Provincial Audience court convicted William Aitken after concluding that there was sufficient evidence to find him guilty of public disorder and assault on an authority, with the aggravating circumstance of using a dangerous instrument - his skateboard. Aitken was imprisoned for a month in February 2021, after the judge refused to grant bail on the grounds that the United Kingdom is a country outside the EU and that he was therefore a flight risk. The case for the prosecution is based on the testimony of two Mossos d'Esquadra police officers who accused him of moving containers and throwing rocks at the Mossos during a demonstration in the Jardinets de Gràcia in central Barcelona, in February 2021.
The defence will appeal
In 2021, Aitken appeared before a judge and was ordered to be held in custody for events that took place on February 17th that year, the third night of protests against the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél. According to the sentence, at the intersection between Rambla de Catalunya and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, the man moved rubbish containers to prevent the passage of the police and then set fire to a container with the help of a companion who was not identified by the police. Officers also accuse him of throwing stones at police vans patrolling the area and of using his skateboard to break cobblestones. The court ruled that the skateboard was a "dangerous instrument" and an aggravating factor in his offences.
Aitken's conviction is the first sentence resulting from the week-long protests in support of the rapper, who was jailed for his lyrics and social media statements. The Scottish man's defence, conducted by the Alerta Solidària legal group, affirms that he will appeal the sentence, which it describes as disproportionate, asserting that there were contradictions with other Mossos agents in the trial. "We cannot understand the insistence in convicting him for assault, and with the aggravating circumstances, when no police officer was injured, there was no damage to any vehicle, equipment or furniture, there is no stone or object that is known to have been thrown. Once again, it is the word of the police against ours," said Alerta Solidària in a statement.
In the sentence, the court rejected the prosecutors request that the accused be expelled from Spain. The court did not accept the version of the Scotsman who has always denied involvement in rioting activity or the throwing of objects at police. Aitken stated that he had arrived at the demonstration together with some friends by mistake, and that they stayed out of curiosity and took photos of what was happening. The prosecution demanded a total of over seven years' jail for the defendant, but requested that part of the sentence be exchanged for his expulsion from Spanish territory, as stated in Article 89 of the Penal Code. The court, on the other hand, rejects this possibility, considering that the settled family and work situation of the young man must be taken into account, since Aitken has a job, a partner and a brother in Barcelona.