The Constitutional of Belgium removes the extradition of Valtònyc by ruling that freedom of expression protects insults to the king


The Constitutional Court of Belgium removes the extradition of Valtònyc. Josep Miquel Arenas, Valtònyc, was sentenced in 2018 to three and a half years in prison for insults, glorification of terrorism and death threats. And this Thursday the Constitutional Court of Belgium has decided that insults to the king are protected by freedom of expression; that is to say, that a Belgian law of 1847 relating to offenses to the king “is contrary to freedom of expression” and, therefore, does not apply to try the rapper in 2021. From here, it is expected that the Court of Appeal of Ghent decides next November 23 on the extradition.


Rap, terrorism and insults to Juan Carlos I: the Belgian justice decides on the extradition of Valtònyc

Rap, terrorism and insults to Juan Carlos I: Belgian justice decides on the extradition of Valtònyc

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The ruling was announced by one of the rapper’s lawyers, Simon Bekaert: “Victoria. The Constitutional Court repeals the criminal law of lese majesty, declaring it contrary to freedom of expression. A historic step for our internal Belgian legal order and good news for the Valtònyc extradition case “.

On September 15, 2020, the Court of Appeal of Ghent (Belgium) decided to refer a preliminary ruling to the Belgian Constitutional Court on the extradition for terrorism carried out by Spain after the rapper left for Belgium in June 2018. What the court of Ghent asked to the Constitutional is if the crimes of libel for which Valtònyc has been convicted in Spain are protected by a fundamental right such as freedom of expression. Something that has been answered this Thursday.

Bekaert explained: “Of the three crimes, the threats and the glorification of terrorism have already been dismissed in the courts. Now the question is about offenses to the king. In Belgium we have a law from the middle of the 19th century regarding offenses to the king, and the Ghent court is asking whether the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression. ” The ruling of the Constitutional Court will influence the future of that nineteenth-century Belgian law, insofar as it has been considered “contrary to freedom of expression.”

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has already ruled by prioritizing freedom of expression over insults, as in the case of Arnaldo Otegi in 2011.

The Belgian justice rejected in the first instance the delivery of Valtònyc in September 2018, alleging that there was no double criminality, that is, none of the three charges for which he was convicted in Spain are classified as a crime, neither in Spain nor in Belgium. A decision that the Ghent Prosecutor’s Office appealed: if it dictates in favor of Valtònyc, the insults to the crown would be dropped from the Belgian Penal Code, a law of 1847.

Since then, there has also been a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU, in March 2020, in which it failed that Spain did wrong when applying the Penal Code of 2015 to Valtònyc. Spain’s thesis defended the application of the Spanish criminal law of 2015, when the sentence against Valtònyc was passed, and that it punishes more severely the apology of terrorism, instead of that of 2012, which is more beneficial to the interests of the rapper. Mallorcan and that implies an insufficient a priori sentence to be extradited.

Valtònyc was also condemned in Spain for insults to the Crown, “for telling the truth”, the rapper adds: “Everything I said is documented in the media and in books. In the end I am not a seer or I’m not a guy who has a very, very broad view of politics. It’s not my thing. I’ve been condemned for saying something that everyone knows. ”

Gonzalo Boye, one of his defense attorneys, abounds: “In any other country, after what happened with the king emeritus, who has fled Spain, they would have reviewed the sentence. It is a crime that must be contextualized. In Belgium they are understanding that it is freedom of expression, because with exaltation and threats, crimes have no correlation in Belgium. ”

The Court of Justice of the EU ruled in a preliminary ruling requested by the Ghent court that Spain did not do well to apply the Penal Code retroactively to have a greater penalty. “They wanted to apply the Penal Code of 2015 that already punishes the apology of terrorism with three years in the Spanish State,” says Valtònyc: “That gave them a three-year sentence for a single crime, not combining the three crimes. The lawyer realized it and they have proved us right. ”

Spain’s thesis in Luxembourg defended the application of the Spanish criminal law of 2015, when the sentence against Valtònyc was passed, and that it punishes more severely the apology of terrorism, instead of that of 2012, when the events occurred , more beneficial to the interests of the Mallorcan rapper and that implies an insufficient a priori sentence to be extradited.

The Belgian justice rejected in the first instance the delivery of Valtònyc in September 2018, alleging that there was no double criminality, that is, rejecting that none of the three charges for which he was convicted in Spain are classified as a crime both in Spain and in Belgium , a decision that the Ghent Prosecutor’s Office appealed.

Once the ruling of the Ghent Court of Appeal, scheduled for November 23, occurs, the parties can appeal to the court of cassation, where the forms of the process are reviewed, not the merits.

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