For the seventh consecutive night, a demonstration in Barcelona in favor of the imprisoned rapper Pablo Hasél degenerated Monday into clashes with the police, with acts of vandalism and the burning of street furniture. After a peaceful rally to the cries of “Freedom for Pablo Hasél”, protesters marched through central Barcelona to the headquarters of the national police, where some threw bottles and other objects at vehicles protecting it, according to TV footage.
Protesters then moved to other streets in Spain’s second largest city where they set dumpsters on fire. “Groups of rioters set fire to barricades (…) and threw objects at neighbors who complained about their attitude ”, the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra wrote on Twitter. The demonstration on Monday evening, on a rainy night, however, drew fewer people and the clashes were less violent than those of previous nights. Since Tuesday, 109 demonstrators have been arrested in this region of northeastern Spain, according to Catalan police.
Pablo Hasél, 32, was sentenced to nine months in prison for apologizing for terrorism, for having in a tweet called King Juan Carlos I of “Mafioso”, praised people involved in attacks and accused police of killing and torturing migrants and protesters.
His arrest revived the debate on freedom of expression in Spain and reinforced the differences within the government coalition between the Socialists of President Pedro Sanchez and the Podemos party (radical left) which supports the demonstrations.
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