Barcelona sees further protests over imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasel
Musician serving nine months for inciting terrorism, refusing to pay fine for insulting Spain’s former king
People protest against the imprisonment of Spanish rapper Pau Rivadulla Duro, aka Pablo Hasel, at Tetuan square in Barcelona, Spain on March 6th. Photograph: Marta Perez/EPA
Several hundred protesters have marched in the Spanish city of Barcelona against a crackdown which followed a violent outcry over the imprisonment of Pablo Hasel, an anti-establishment rapper.
The march took place amid a heavy police presence, winding through several avenues of the Catalan regional capital.
Protesters walked behind a banner that called for the release of Hasel and his jailed supporters.
The rapper is serving nine months for inciting terrorism – having praised two now-defunct armed groups responsible for killing more than 900 people in Spain – and for refusing to pay a fine for insulting Spain’s former king.
His arrest on February 16th triggered a mix of peaceful and violent 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 offenses involving freedom of speech.
The coalition’s junior partner, the far-left United We Can party, has filed a petition to pardon Hasel.
Eight people have been held on suspicion of being part of a group that protested against the rapper’s imprisonment by setting fire to a police van, with one officer narrowly escaping the flames.
They face possible charges of attempted homicide, assaulting law enforcement officers and forming part of a criminal group. – AP