Spanish protests at jailing of rapper Pablo Hasél turn violent for 3rd night

Protests over the imprisonment of rapper Pablo Hasél, convicted of insulting the Spanish monarchy and praising terrorist violence degenerated into a third night of violence on Thursday.

The imprisonment of Hasél, currently serving a 9-month sentence in a northeastern prison, has triggered a heated debate over the limits of free speech in Spain and a political storm over the use of violence by both the rapper's supporters and the police.

In Catalonia's regional capital, Barcelona, hundreds sang songs, rapped and shouted “Pablo Hasél, freedom!" and “Spanish media, manipulators!” at a central square before dozens broke off the main group to set alight a barricade of trash containers and a construction skip that blocked a main city artery, hurling stones, bottles and other objects at riot police.

The far-left United We Can (Unidas Podemos) party, on Thursday filed a petition for a “total pardon” for Hasél and another rapper, Valtònyc, who fled to Belgium in 2018 to avoid trial on charges of “glorifying” terrorism.

But potentially deepening the tension, court authorities in the northeastern Catalonia region announced that Hasél lost a recent appeal and is looking at an additional prison sentence of 30 months for obstructing justice and assault in 2017. The sentence can be appealed again before the country's Supreme Court.

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