Tunisian rapper Alaa Yacoubi, known as “Weld El 15,” was sentenced to 4 months in a trial Thursday that found him guilty of songs “insulting to police.” After sentencing, he was ordered to be taken straight to prison.
The music video of Yacoubi’s song “Boulicia Kleb,” which criticizes police and shows video clips of them in action, has garnered just under 3.5 million views on Youtube since March.
In August, Yacoubi went on the run after being sentenced without trial to 21 months in jail, along with fellow rapper Klay BBJ. Klay BBJ was retried twice and finally acquitted in October, reports Al Arabiya.
The rapper decided to surrender to authorities for the hearing, telling AFP “I handed myself in because I can’t spend my life on the run, but I’m not ready to go back to prison.”
The sentencing will not be the end of proceedings. Defense lawyer Ghazi Mrabet noted “I am going to lodge an immediate appeal. I am concerned Weld El 15 may suffer bodily harm in prison.”
Speaking about his legal battle, Yacoubi said “I’m ready for anything, I hope that Tunisia has a justice system and not an injustice system.”
Weld El 15 added “the revolution took place in the name of freedom of expression,” referring to the “Arab spring” in Tunisia which deposed former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
Yacoubi’s legal woes are similar to those suffered by a US citizen in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who was jailed last week for posting a light-hearted spoof video on UAE youth culture to Youtube. The man was thrown into a maximum security prison with no release date for allegedly “challenging authorities.”
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