The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has rejected a Spanish court’s request for the arrest and extradition of Spanish rapper Josep Miquel Arenas, aka Valtònyc, over crimes allegedly committed by the rapper in 2012 because the arrest warrant was issued on the basis of national-security legislation pushed through Congress three years later in 2015 by the conservative Partido Popular government of former President Mariano Rajoy.
In 2018, Valtònyc fled Spain to Brussels to avoid being jailed on a conviction of more than three and a half years in prison for rap songs he composed in 2012, the lyrics of which allegedly exalted terrorism and threatened, slandered and proved injurious to the Spanish Monarchy.
Taking advantage of European-wide anti-terrorism measures, the Spanish government sought Valtònyc’s immediate extradition without appeal on the charge of exalting terrorism, the sentence for which was significantly increased by modifications made to Spain’s penal code in 2015, which were included in sweeping national-security legislation passed by the Rajoy government.
Presented with a European arrest warrant and demand for the rapper’s immediate extradition to Spain, a regional court in Belgium appealed for a ruling to the CJEU, which concluded that the criminal code of an EU member country cannot be retroactively applied to claim a fast-track extradition. According to the CJEU ruling, the legislation cited in the arrest warrant must be the law concurrent with the date on which the facts in the case actually occurred.
The CJEU’s decision kicks the case back to the Belgian regional court in Gante, which in all likelihood will again reject Spain’s extradition request as defective.
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