PARIS (AP) — A French prosecutor said police detained seven people Saturday, including two alleged organizers, after a New Year’s Eve rave party drew at least 2,500 people in western France despite a coronavirus curfew and other restrictions.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted that actions by police around the site at Lieuron, in Brittany, “led to the end of the illegal party without violence” on Saturday morning, 36 hours after it began.
Prosecutor Philippe Astruc said an investigation has been opened for “endangering others’ lives,” “deliberate violence” against police officers and drug-related offenses. Investigators found that organizers requested a financial contribution to take part in the party and that illicit drugs were in plentiful supply, Astruc said.
Police detained two people born in 1998 suspected of being organizers after a police search found money, illicit drugs and sound equipment in the Brittany town of Iffendic. Five other people were arrested as they were leaving the party for drug-related infractions and transporting sound equipment.
Emmanuel Berthier, head of the local state authority, said in a news conference Saturday that police issued at least 1,200 fines, including 800 for not respecting the virus curfew, not wearing a mask and illegally taking part in a gathering. Hundreds of people were also fined for using illicit drugs, he said.
Ravers from France and abroad converged on a hangar in Lieuron on Thursday night to party into the New Year. Officials said ravers attacked the police on the first night, torching one police vehicle and slightly injuring three officers with volleys of bottles and stones.
Video images showed lines of ravers’ trucks and cars leaving on Saturday morning.
The party took place despite France’s nationwide night-time curfew, which seeks to dissuade people from gathering during the pandemic.
The Regional Health Agency of Brittany warned that party-goers had a high risk of spreading the virus and urged participants to self-isolate for a week and get a test in seven days.
France has reported more than 64,000 virus-related deaths.