Riots in Spain leave 30 injured after arrest of rapper who praised terror group and insulted 'mafia boss' ex-King

MORE than 30 people were injured and 15 arrested in a night of violence in Spain following the arrest of a controversial rapper.

Eight people needed hospital treatment after riot police clashed with protesters in Barcelona and several other Catalan cities, as well as Valencia a three-hour drive south.

Nearly 20 of the casualties are police officers.

The violence flared after thousands of people heeded a call to join demonstrations to demand the release of Catalan rapper Pablo Hasel, 33.

He was arrested yesterday after dozens of police stormed Lleida University in north-east Spain to take him to jail to start a nine month sentence.

As he was led to a patrol car, Hasel raised his fist and yelled to television cameras: “They will never silence us. Death to the fascist state.”

The musician had barricaded himself inside the university in his home city with supporters after missing Friday's deadline to enter prison voluntarily.

A court had convicted Hasel, real name Pablo Rivadulla Duro, on charges of glorifying terrorism and insulting royalty in a series of tweets.

He praised members of Basque terrorist group ETA, and called scandal-hit former king Juan Carlos a "mafia boss".

Last night hundreds of Hasel's supporters gathered in Lleida and thousands marched in Barcelona.

Demonstrators were filmed throwing bottles and setting wheelie bins on fire soon after the start of their 7pm protest.

Police responded with sponge bullets, hitting one youngster in the eye who was among the eight people rushed to hospital.

In Vic, an hour north of Barcelona, the town police HQ was badly damaged.

Protests also turned violent in Reus, where banks were targeted, and in Girona.

Police also clashed with demonstrators in a main square in Valencia, which is outside Catalonia.

The regional Mossos d’Esquadra police force said overnight: “Groups of violent protesters have caused serious incidents in Barcelona, Girona and Lleida, setting light to barricades, burning street furniture and destroying everything they came across in their path.

“The police station in Vic has also been vandalised and several police officers have been hurt.”

A spokesman, confirming the number of police casualties and arrests, added this morning: “The information we have at the moment is that there have been 15 arrests across Catalonia, two in Barcelona, five in Vic and eight in Lleida.

“Seventeen Mossos officers have been injured, four in Barcelona, 11 in Vic and two in Lleida.”

Police began advising the public to stay away from parts of Barcelona just after 9pm last night.

The force said in tweets: “In Barcelona they are setting mopeds and motorbikes on fire and setting light to containers they are using as barricades in Passeig de Gracia.

“In Gran de Gracia, people wearing hoodies are looting shops and throwing missiles at police from behind burning barricades.

“For your own safety stay away from the area.”

A spokesman for regional emergency medical service SEM confirmed 33 people including the 17 police officers hurt had needed medical attention and eight of the casualties had been taken to hospital.

Hasel was made to enter jail because of an earlier two-year prison sentence for glorifying terrorism in song lyrics, which ended up being suspended.

One of the lyrics said in Spanish: “I think about bullets that reach the necks of Nazi judges.”

The judges who convicted him found him guilty of hate speech which breached freedom of expression boundaries.

Prison sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are normally suspended in Spain, which is why he was spared jail after his first conviction.

The rapper’s second conviction meant jail was unavoidable.

More than 200 artists including Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar and Hollywood actor Javier Bardem signed a petition opposing Hasel’s jail sentence.

Police were preparing themselves for more violence later today as new demonstrations have been organised in several cities including Madrid.

Basque separatist group ETA killed at least 829 people in a 40-campaign of bombings and assassinations.

It declared a ceasefire in 2011 and said it had dismantled itself for good in 2018.

Former king Juan Carlos, 83, flew to a luxury resort in Abu Dhabi in August after Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation into bank accounts he allegedly held in tax havens. He now faces three criminal probes in Spain.

Last week he was forced to deny reports he was seriously ill. He told a magazine he was in "perfect" health and did two hours in the gym each day.

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