PARIS – Several suspects around France have been detained or given preliminary charges in recent days of pricking people with a needle in nightclubs or at concerts following a surge in needle attacks that confounded authorities and seeded panic among young club-goers.
The French Interior Ministry, prosecutors, the national anti-drug agency, public health authorities and doctors have not determined a motive for the attacks, or whether the victims were injected with drugs, viruses or any substance at all.
Since January, 1,004 people have filed formal complaints with French authorities about such needle pricks, an Interior Ministry official told The Associated Press. The targeted individuals, who are mostly women, show visible marks of injection, often bruises, and report symptoms like feeling groggy.
In the cases so far that resulted in charges against suspects, medical tests did not reveal any signs of harmful substances, including so-called date rape drug GHB, authorities said. The suspects have denied all allegations.
After months of fruitless investigations, authorities in the Mediterranean city of Toulon arrested a 20-year-old man suspected of pricking three women with a needle on the night of June 3-4, during the recording of a concert for TV. He was the first suspect given preliminary charges, for “aggravated violence with a weapon (the syringe) with premeditation.”
Later in the same region, in the beach town of Six-Four-Les-Plages, police arrested two suspects who received preliminary charges for the suspected administration of a harmful substance on the night of June 10-11, the local prosecutor said on French television.
Another eight people were arrested Tuesday, which was World Music Day, after individuals reported being pricked with needles, according to the Interior Ministry. Some were later released. At least one, in Nancy in eastern France, was given preliminary charges on accusations that he pricked at least two people.
The suspect denied wrongdoing, and said he was “heavily drunk” and didn’t recall the events, according to the prosecutor.
Police, doctors and medico-legal services are working together to support victims.
Britain’s government also has been studying a spate of “needle spiking,” while police in Belgium and the Netherlands have reported scattered cases, too.
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