Pablo protests: Violence in Spanish cities over rapper’s jailing

Pablo Hasél protests: Violence in Spanish cities over rapper’s jailing

Protests in support of a jailed Catalan rapper have descended into violence, with police and demonstrators clashing in Spain's main cities.

The protests erupted a day after Pablo Hasél was jailed for tweets insulting police and the Spanish monarchy.

Thousands of protesters in Madrid and Barcelona were met by riot police carrying batons and shields.

Dozens have been arrested, including at least 14 in Madrid and 29 in Barcelona, police said.

The rapper faces nine months in prison on a charge of glorifying terrorism and slandering the crown in tweets and song lyrics. The case of Hasél - known for his radical leftist views - has reignited a debate about free speech in Spain.

More than 200 artists, including film director Pedro Almodóvar and Hollywood star Javier Bardem, have signed a petition against his jail term and the government said last week it intended to relax penalties for "excesses" in freedom of expression.

In the Spanish capital, a demonstration started peacefully on Wednesday night, with protesters clapping their hands and chanting "No more police violence" and "Freedom for Pablo Hasél".

But after bottles and stones were thrown at riot police, they used tear gas and rubber bullets.

The city's conservative mayor, José Luis Martinez-Almeida, condemned the violence, tweeting: "The violent and those who do not accept the rules have no place in our society."

Hasél, whose real name is Pablo Rivadulla Duro, was taken to prison on Tuesday. He had missed a deadline last Friday to give himself up to police and begin serving a jail term handed down in 2018.

Police had stormed a university building where Hasél had barricaded himself and arrested him, triggering rallies and riots in Barcelona and other Catalan cities.

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On Wednesday, Hasél said his arrest had unleashed a wave of outrage against what he described as fascist Spanish institutions.