Pablo Hasel: Fresh protest in Spain over jailing of rapper's backers

FILE PHOTO: Police officers run during clashes following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.
FILE PHOTO: Police officers run during clashes following a protest condemning the arrest of rap singer Pablo Hasel in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Copyright Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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Pablo Hasel, a previously obscure artist in the Spanish rap scene, is now at the centre of a battle over free speech in the country.

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Several hundred protesters took to the streets of Barcelona on Saturday to demand the release of rapper Pablo Hasel and his jailed supporters.  

Saturday's march took place amid a heavy police presence, winding through several avenues of the Catalan regional capital. 

The musician is serving nine months for inciting terrorism and for refusing to pay a fine for insulting Spain's former king. 

He has praised Grapo and ETA, two now-defunct armed groups responsible for killing over 900 people in Spain. 

His arrest on February 16 triggered a wave of protests that have at times ended in the looting of shops in several cities. 

The case has also invigorated a debate over the limits of freedom of speech in Spain.

The ruling left-wing coalition has pledged to launch a legal reform to eliminate prison terms for offences involving freedom of speech.

The coalition's junior partner, the far-left United We Can party, has filed a petition to pardon Hasel.

Eight suspects have been jailed for being in a group that protested the rapper's imprisonment by setting fire to a police van in which an officer narrowly escaped the flames. 

They face possible charges of attempted homicide, assaulting law enforcement officers and forming part of a criminal group.

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