Festival drug raids spark criticism

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Norwegian police were being strongly criticized Sunday after weekend raids on a summer music festival in Lofoten. Law professor Hans Fredrik Marthinussen thinks police broke the law themselves, when they showed up at the electronica music festival Midnight Sun in Lofoten with their drug-sniffing dogs.

“If people act like they’re under the influence, or behave strangely, that can be a reason to react,” Marthinussen, a law professor at the University of Bergen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “But a completely random search with specially trained dogs against people who haven’t done anything or exhibited any reason for suspicion, that’s not something the police can legally do.”

Around 2,000 people gathered for the Midnight Sun festival, and many including “DJ Friendly” Erik Eriksson, who performed at the festival, have blasted the police raids. Marthiussen claimed that raids are only supposed to be carried out in situations where there is “strong suspicion” against “a concrete person.” He questioned whether that was the case over the weekend.

“We are opposed to all use of narcotics, and understand the police’s desire to do their job,” Anne Stenhammer, a former mayor of Værøy where the festival was held, told NRK. “But when the police were as aggressive as they were, that feels very unfair for us in Værøy.”

Most of those charged in the police raids were foreign visitors. This year’s festival attracted around 2,000 participants from 50 countries to the small island in Lofoten. Police made 55 seizures of illegal substances at the festival,which they claimed they want to halt.

“For the police, it’s completely unacceptable to have a festival with so much substance abuse in a small community,” Bent Are Eilertsen police chief in nearby Bodø, told NRK. “We have zero tolerance for substance abuse.”

newsinenglish.no staff