To the Beliebers in Argentina, Justin Bieber is “sorry.” The 22-year-old singer faces charges stemming from a 2013 attack on a photographer in Buenos Aires that will force him to leave Argentina off the South American leg of his Purpose world tour.
Bieber apologized to his Argentinian fans on Monday via Twitter. He is accused of ordering two of his bodyguards to attack photographer Diego Pesoa outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in November 2013. An Argentinian judge issued an arrest warrant for Bieber and the bodyguards in April 2015, but it was revoked three months later. The charges still stand and the pop singer could face one month to six years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Bieber Told His Argentinian Fans ‘Sorry’
Bieber apologized to his fans in Argentina on Monday who were hoping to see him in concert during his Purpose world tour. They will have to travel to a neighboring country, because he cannot perform in Argentina due to his ongoing legal battle. He explained the situation in a series of tweets.
2. A Photographer Accused Bieber of Ordering His Bodyguards to Attack Him
Photographer Diego Pesoa has accused Bieber of ordering his two bodyguards, Hugo Alcides Hesny and Terrence Reche Smalls, to attack him outside a Buenos Aires nightclub in November 2013. Pesoa claims the bodyguards chased him down and beat him outside the Ink nightclub where Bieber was partying, according to Télam, a state-run news agency in Argentina. The photographer also accused the bodyguards of stealing cameras and cellphones.
Bieber was in Argentina for the South American leg of his Believe tour in 2013. He played three concerts in the country, one in Córdoba and two in Buenos Aires. He courted more controversy during his first performance in Buenos Aires when he kicked and dragged two Argentina flags off stage after fans had thrown them up. Disrespecting the Argentina flag can carry a penalty of four years in prison, according to The Associated Press.
Bieber apologized a few days later via Twitter and said he believed it was a shirt. USA Today captured his series of tweets at the time that said:
it was a shirt. Im being told by my team it was a shirt but even if it was a flag I would never do anything to disrespect Argentina… or the people of Argentina or the fans. Im so sorry for anyone who took my actions the wrong way and I hope you can forgive this mistake… so once again to the people of Argentina. Im sorry if that was taken the wrong way and im sorry for my mistake. I hope u can accept this.
The “Love Yourself” singer had another run-in with the Argentinian flag earlier this year in New York City. A 15-year-old fan from Argentina waited outside his hotel and threw a small version of the flag into his car hoping he would catch it. Instead, Bieber threw the flag out the window and was seen mouthing the words “go away” in video captured by the same fan, according to the Daily Mail.
3. Bieber Faces One Month to Six Years in Jail If He’s Found Guilty
Bieber could face one month to six years in jail if an Argentinian court finds him guilty in the alleged attack against the photographer. In November 2014, the Argentinian magistrate Facundo Cubas summoned Bieber to submit testimony about the incident within 60 days or risk arrest, according to The Guardian.
He failed to respond to the summons and a warrant was issued for his arrest in April 2015. Judge Alberto Julio Banos ordered the “immediate detention” of Bieber and his bodyguards, according to The Associated Press. At the time, Diego Pesoa’s lawyer told local station Telefe Noticias (via Independent):
Now we just need to wait for the police to find him and bring him [to Argentina]. For us, this is a triumph against all those who said this case was a bluff and that we didn’t have anything.
Interpol issued the international arrest warrant, but the courts revoked the warrant three months later, The Associated Press reported. The charges still stand against Bieber and in February 2016, he was again asked to give evidence in court stemming from the alleged attack. Judge Banos denied the option for the Canadian to appear via a video link and ordered him to appear in person, according to the Mirror. An official court document stated:
There are no reasons to impede the appearance of the subject in Buenos Aires since he has not invoked physical or economic impossibility… The questioning of Bieber in Argentina creates immediacy between the accused and the judge.
4. Bieber Has Not Announced His South American Tour Dates Yet
Bieber will wrap up the North American leg of his Purpose world tour on July 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. By the end, he will have performed 64 concerts between the United States and Canada. He will then take off a month before heading to Japan to perform two concerts in Tokyo on August 13 and 14.
Following his stop in Japan, Bieber will fly to Europe to kick off the next leg of the tour in Chelmsford, England. So far, he is scheduled for 50 dates in 20 countries, finishing back in England at London’s O2 arena on November 29. He has not announced dates for South America, but that leg of the tour would likely start in early 2017.
5. Bieber Has Settled a Number of Legal Disputes Over the Last Two Years
Between 2013 and 2014, it seemed Bieber couldn’t travel anywhere without a run-in with local authorities. Beyond Argentina, trouble found the bad boy pop star in Brazil and the United States as well as his Canadian homeland.
Police arrested Bieber for spraying graffiti on an abandoned hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to BBC News. City Hall had given him permission to tag a nearby sports facility, but he chose to paint the abandoned Hotel Nacional instead. Defacing a building in Brazil is punishable by up to a year in jail, but officials told the BBC that Bieber’s was a “minor offense.”
Bieber had at least five arrests between December 2013 to August 2014 in the United States and Canada. Charges stemming from an alleged assault against a Toronto limo driver in 2013 were dropped in September 2014, according to ABC News. In November 2014, Bieber settled with his ex-neighbors, whose house he egged, for $80,000 and completed anger management classes, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The “Baby” singer added to the gallery of celebrity mug shots in January 2014 when he was arrested in Miami for drunk driving and resisting arrest. He later pleaded guilty to careless driving and resisting arrest and made a $50,000 donation to the youth charity, Our Kids, according to CNN.
In a case similar to the one in Argentina, paparazzo Aja Oxman filed a lawsuit against Bieber and his bodyguard, Dwayne Patterson, and claimed Bieber ordered Patterson to “Go get his memory card and do whatever you have to do to get that card,” according to Billboard. Oxman was seeking damages for assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.