Spanish police are investigating around 50 reported cases of women being pricked with medical needles at nightclubs or parties, a trend that had previously caught the attention of authorities in other European countries.
So far, Spanish police have not confirmed any cases of sexual assault or robbery linked to the mysterious beatings. Police said 23 of the recently reported needlestick attacks occurred in the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain, which borders France.
Waves of needle sticks at music events have also baffled authorities in France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. French police have tallied more than 400 reports in recent months and said the motive for the beatings was unclear. In many cases, it was also unclear whether the victims had been injected with the substance.
So far, Spanish police have found evidence of drugs in one victim, a 13-year-old girl from the northern city of Gijón who had ecstasy in her system. Local media reported that the girl was quickly rushed to hospital by her parents, who were near her when she felt pricked with something sharp.
In an interview with national public broadcaster TVE and broadcast on Wednesday, Spain’s Justice Minister Pilar Llop urged anyone who thinks they’ve been shot without their consent to turn themselves in to the police because being stabbed with a needle “is a serious act of violence against women. ”
Spanish health authorities said they were updating their protocols to improve the ability to detect any substance possibly injected into victims. Toxicology screening protocols call for blood or urine tests within 12 hours of a suspected attack, Llop said.
The guidelines advise victims to call emergency services immediately and get to a health center as soon as possible.
In southwestern France, a wave of needlestick attacks was reported during the Bayonne Festival, which around 1.2 million people attended last week in the city near the Spanish border.
Bayonne assistant prosecutor Caroline Parizel said 124 people had been examined after reporting possible needlestick attacks. They included both women and men. Eleven have filed legal complaints.
AP writer Sylvie Corbet contributed to this report from Saulieu, France.