Justin Bieber was reportedly questioned on Wednesday by police in Rome, in connection with Argentina’s arrest warrant for the singer over the alleged assault of a photographer by one of his bodyguards.
The 21-year-old’s questioning follows an April 8 request from Argentine judge Julio Alberto Banos for Interpol to issue a Red Notice for the singer’s arrest. Banos signed an order the same day for Bieber’s detainment if he sets foot in Argentina.
Judge Banos’s secretary told AFP on April 10, “We are asking Interpol for Justin Bieber’s detention, anywhere in the world, adding, “Since he could not be found for his appearance to testify, we request that he be detained,”
TMZ reports police swarmed outside Bieber’s hotel early Wednesday. The site claimed the officers were there to consult with Bieber’s security about crowd control.
While Italy has an extradition treaty with Argentina, Interpol does not issue arrest warrants itself. But it can send out a Red Notice informing member states that a suspect is wanted in a given country.
However, E! News reports Bieber’s name is not on the Argentinian Interpol list. The outlet adds a source said of the singer, “He was questioned but wasn’t as serious as they made it seem,” adding that “he is still in Rome and having a great time.”
Bieber flew to Rome from LAX Airport on Sunday to shoot his cameo role in Zoolander 2, which is being filmed in the Italian capital. His addition to the cast was announced by the singer and director-star Ben Stiller hours before police arrived at Bieber’s hotel.
Judge Banos’ arrest order stemmed from Bieber’s failure to appear at a court deposition to answer questions about the alleged assault of photographer, Diego Pesoa, by the singer’s bodyguards outside a Buenos Aires nightclub on November 9, 2013, during the legendary South American leg of his Believe tour.
In that April 8 order, Judge Banos stated the following,
“I consider it pertinent to order the immediate detention of the accused.” Banos reportedly also ordered the “immediate detention” of Bieber’s bodyguards, Hugo Alcides Hesny and Terrence Reche Smalls.
Last November, Judge Facundo Cubas summoned Bieber to appear before an Argentine court within 60 days, claiming there is enough evidence against the singer to question him over an alleged criminal assault of Pesoa by his bodyguards. However, Bieber didn’t go to the deposition.
Pesoa accuses Bieber of instructing a bodyguard to forcefully take his camera and phone outside the INK nightclub in the Palermo, Hollywood neighborhood.
The Associated Press previously reported that under Argentine law, the singer would face anything from one month to a six-year stretch in prison if convicted on a charge of causing injuries.
As regards the critical question of extradition, TMZ claimed in its live broadcast on April 29 that Bieber could only be arrested by Interpol over the Argentina case three years after the arrest warrant was issued, and only if six countries in treaty with Argentina agree the case merits it. Presumably, Bieber’s native Canada would have to be included.
In a separate report, the site said the singer’s legal team are aware of this “grace period.”
In addition to Bieber’s own legal cases, he and his security detail have been involved with numerous alleged run-ins with paparazzi. The “Where Are U Now” singer recently reached a settlement with a Miami photog who accused the heartthrob of ordering his bodyguards to take his camera and memory card and rough him up.
Gossip Cop adds that a rep for Bieber told them talk of the singer being arrested in Rome was nothing more than “rumors.” E! echoes this, and reported a source dismissed reports claiming the singer had been arrested or detained as “ridiculous” and “completely false.”
For his part, the Biebs took to Twitter hours after news of the police questioning broke and posted a tweet with the same gist. It appears intended to assure his fans that he is okay.
Rumors rumors rumors. All good. Comes with the job. Enjoying Italy and appreciate all the kind people here. Thank you. Great food :)
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) April 29, 2015
[Images via Getty Images/Mail Online]