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Prominent Yellow Vest protester in court for organising illegal demonstrations

Eric Drouet was in court for organising unauthorised demonstrations in Paris and Versailles
Eric Drouet was in court for organising unauthorised demonstrations in Paris and Versailles Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Eric Drouet, accused of organising unauthorised protests, was in court Friday, with prosecutors asking for a suspended one month prison term and a 500 euro fine. His lawyer says the case against his client is politically motivated.

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Drouet is accused of calling for a demonstration in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris on 22 December 2018 and another one on 2 January 2019 in Versailles, without asking for or receiving authorisation from the police.

Drouet told the court that he is not a leader or an organiser of the Yellow Vests.

“I am just a transmitter of information,” he told court. The 34-year-old truck driver has emerged as one of the figureheads of the anti-government protest movement, which has no leader.

The prosecutor argued that Drouet was the organiser of the demonstration, and read messages in court that Drouet sent to police saying they would be informed at the last minute of the location of the demonstrations.

The prosecutor recognised that the demonstrations in question aimed to be peaceful, but argued that declaring them allows for law enforcement to make sure they go ahead peacefully.

Drouet’s lawyer insists that the case is aimed at breaking the Yellow Vest movement.

“This is clearly a political case,” Kheops Lara told the court, adding that the prosecutors are painting Drouet as a lead figure in the movement, and that the court is being asked to convict him for that reason.

“The police is being used, and you too, to quash a major social movement”, he said, addressing the court.

Drouet could face up to six months in prison and a 7,500 euro fine, though the prosecutors have asked for less. A ruling is expected on 29 March.

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