Fourteen people were arrested in Spain Wednesday after violent street protests in several cities followed the apprehension of a controversial rapper who had barricaded himself inside a building to avoid jail.
Police say rapper Pablo Hasél was arrested at Lleida University in northeastern Spain after a 24-hour standoff. He was taken to prison to serve a nine-month sentence after being convicted of offending the monarchy and endorsing terrorism in tweets and a song about King Juan Carlos.
His arrest triggered protests in several cities, resulting in 33 injuries. The largest demonstration was in Barcelona, where protesters threw stones at police and set trash cans on fire.
Some protesters looted stores and some police used batons and foam projectiles to disperse crowds.
After Hasél’s detention, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said people should not be imprisoned over freedom of speech issues in a democracy like Spain.
Last week, the country’s left-wing coalition government said it intended to amend the country’s criminal code to eliminate prison terms for offenses involving freedom of expression.
The Catalonian rapper was previously charged with assault and breaking into private premises.
Hasél’s case has drawn international attention from artists, other celebrities and politicians who are demanding a change in Spain’s “gag law.”
His case is the latest in a list of trials in Spain involving artists and social media personalities under its 2015 Public Security Law, which was enacted by a conservative government, according to Amnesty International.