It has taken four years, but Spain has finally been defeated in the Valtònyc case. Belgian public prosecutors have announced that they will not appeal the ruling handed down on Tuesday by the Ghent Court of Appeal denying the extradition of the Mallorcan rapper Josep Miquel Arenas (aka Valtònyc), and that means that the European Arrest Warrant with which Spanish justice seeks his return has now been definitively rejected. "The prosecution has decided not to appeal," said the public prosecutors' office. And that's it: the final verse of the musician's legal battle in Belgium has been sung, after four years in exile avoiding a prison sentence in Spain over the content of some of his lyrics.
The initial news broke this morning: the Ghent Court of Appeal rejected Valtònyc's extradition after re-examining his case. "We won, Valtònyc," tweeted lawyer Gonzalo Boye. The hearing had been necessary because the Court of Cassation last January ordered a review of the initial refusal to extradite the Mallorcan rapper to Spain for the crime of defamation. The appeal court then made a re-examination of the case, with respect to the offence of defamation in general. That is, whether the singer's insults, directed at the Spanish king in some of his songs, are a crime in Belgium under the country's penal code. The final conclusion was clear: the court rejected the singer's extradition.
The ruling is final
Following the decision announced by the Belgian court this Tuesday, the prosecution had one day to appeal. Failure to do so would mean that the appeal path had reached its end. And so it has been. The Belgian public prosecutors announced this afternoon that they will not appeal the ruling handed down by the Ghent Court of Appeal: "The prosecutor has decided not to appeal." Therefore, the decision is final and the extradition order against Valtònyc is definitively thrown out. It is clear, however, that the rapper will not be able to return home. To return to Spain, he might have to wait for the offence to expire under the statute of limitations. In any case, this long-running legal battle in Belgium is over and the Mallorcan musician can travel freely throughout the rest of the European Union.
In 2018, Spanish justice sentenced him to three and a half years in prison for glorifying terrorism, insulting the crown and threats against an individual. In response, he left Spain. Four years later, the fourth ruling in favour of Valtònyc has arrived. On three previous occasions (courts of first instance, appeals and cassation) the Spanish judicial authorities' request for the singer's extradition was denied, for each of the three crimes of which he had been convicted in Spain. During the process, two key facts emerged: firstly, the European Court of Justice was consulted because the Spanish state had attempted to extradite him under a law passed subsequent to the facts of the case, with the EU court ruling in the rapper's favour; secondly, Belgium changed its own law, eradicating the crime of lèse-majesté - insults to the crown - from its penal code after declaring it unconstitutional. For its part, the Spanish state appealed all the previous rulings against it in the Valtònyc case, so that the Court of Appeal had to respond to the extradition request again this Monday. This time, however, Spain has suffered its final defeat.