14 arrested during night of violent protest in Spain’s Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain, Feb 28 (efe-epa).- Catalan police arrested 14 people during another night of violent protests in Barcelona following the jailing of a Spanish rapper for charges of glorifying terrorism and slandering the monarchy and state institutions.
At least six officers from the regional police force in Catalonia, in Spain’s northeast, were lightly injured during the protests.
Barcelona’s city police force said 4,000 protesters gathered in the regional capital to demonstrate in favor of releasing Pablo Hasel, who was detained and imprisoned on 16 February.
One of the most violent incidents on Saturday night occurred when protesters tried to set fire to a police vehicle while an officer was inside. Other protesters ransacked shops and vandalized banks and a hotel.
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez described the acts of vandalism and violence as “unacceptable.”
At least 140 people have been arrested in weekly demonstrations — some of which have descended into rioting — in Catalonia since the rapper was taken into custody to serve a reduced nine-month sentence.
The original charges, underpinned by a 2015 package of laws passed by the erstwhile conservative government of Mariano Rajoy, have revived the debate on the limits of free speech in Spain.
Judges found Hasel guilty of praising terror groups like the now-defunct Basque separatists Eta and the obscure leftist Grapo as well as slandering the monarchy in a series of tweets and songs.
Earlier this month, judges confirmed another two and a half year sentence for Hasel in relation to charges of threatening a witness in a separate case. EFE-EPA