Belgium rejects rapper arrest warrant

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By Ana LAZARO  & Damon Embling
Belgium rejects rapper arrest warrant

A Belgian judge has refused a European Arrest Warrant against a rapper accused of insulting Spain's royal family.

Josep Miquel Arenas - known as Valtonyc - won't now be sent to Spain, where he also faces accusations of writing lyrics that praise terror groups and threatening a politician with violence.

He faces prison sentences there - and left the country for Belgium.

"It means that here (in Belgium) there are things that are accepted as freedom of speech that in Spain are not," said Josep Miquel Arenas.

"The verdict of the judge is a very good one. Regarding to insults to the Crowns, for example, he says that the Crown has to be exposed to criticism."

Valtonyc's case has rallied those in Spain who claim the authorities are cracking down on free speech.

His lawyer, Simon Bekaert, says the Belgian court move is a new setback for Madrid.

"I think it sends a message to Madrid, to the Spanish Justice system, that they have to stop abusing the European Arrest Warrant which is a very good tool as such, but it is not meant for cases like that and it is not meant for helping Spain in prosecuting people just for having an opinion," he commented.

A victory in Belgium, but Valtonyc won't be leaving it here - he now plans to take the Spanish case against him to the European Court of Human Rights.