Spanish Rapper Sentenced To 3.5 Years In Prison For Insulting The King

Jose Miguel Arenas, locally known by his rap alter ego Valtonyc, has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for insulting Spain’s monarchy, glorifying terrorism and advocating the use of violence.

Jose Miguel Arenas, locally known by his rap alter ego Valtonyc
YouTube/Josep Valtonyc
– Jose Miguel Arenas, locally known by his rap alter ego Valtonyc
Sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison

Arenas was found guilty by a regional court on Feb. 7, and the country’s Supreme Court upheld the decision Feb. 20, thereby shunning his referral to his rights to free speech and artistic freedom.

Arenas has already announced he would be appealing at the European Court of Human Rights. Alberto López Basaguren, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of the Basque Country, reportedly sees three specific problems with the Supreme Court ruling.

For one, the fact that insulting the king was still punishable in Spain contradicted the European Convention on Human Rights, which, in theory, exempts head of states from special treatment. He also points out that the Supreme Court failed to prove that Arenas lyrics were indeed an incitement to the use of terrorism. Neither did the court explain where it saw a connection between the man’s lyrics actual terrorism.

The magistrates of the court maintained that they simply applied Spain’s penal code, and claim that freedom of expression was not an absolute and unlimited right.

Spain, in particular, has been under close observation by political and human rights activists, for its violent suppression of protesters in Catalonia’s recent bid for independence from the rest of the country. The scenes, which show voters being clubbed by Spain’s Guardia Civil, prove that many politicians and law enforcement in the country only pay lip-service to so-called inalienable rights and various freedoms allegedly guaranteed to individuals.

Arenas seems to be another case to highlight this. Rodríguez Padrón of Spain’s association for legal professionals Asociación Profesional de la Magistratura (APM), insists that it wasn’t a legal aberration to punish “intolerable and extreme transgressions of freedom of expression,” without mentioning where the line should be drawn, but hinting that the line was drawn in court for each case individually.

Margarita Robles, a judge herself and spokeswoman of the country’s socialist party PSOE lamented that the country was going through a “retrogression of liberties,” witnessing yet another application of the “gag law”, which was introduced be the People’s Party, which is located on the right of the political spectrum.

Another left-wing politician, Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, called the sentencing of Arenas “a shame,” that showed “a regression with regard to civil liberties.”