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Arrested Yellow Vest leader to appear in court

media Eric Drout speaks to reporters alongside fellow Yellow Vest leader, Priscilla Ludosky, following a meeting with French ecology minister, 28 November 2018. AFP

A leader of the Yellow Vest movement is to appear in court on Sunday after he was arrested in Paris during the sixth round of protests. Eric Drouet faces charges of possession of a non-lethal weapon and intent to commit violent acts or vandalism.

Magistrates say they will request that Drouet, 33, be placed under judicial supervision and that he be banned from entering Paris pending his hearing.

He was arrested during Saturday’s protest for possession of a Category D weapon, believed to be a kind of baton, and "participating in a group with intent to commit vandalism and violence".

Key instigator of Saturday's demonstrations

Yellow Vest protesters on the Champs Elysées as participation dwindles, Saturday 22 December, 2018. AFP Photos/Abdul ABEISSA

Participation in Act VI of the Yellow Vest demonstrations was significantly down in Paris and across France, following the previous weekends' unrest.

Drouet had initially called on Yellow Vests to assemble in the town of Versailles,causing authorities to shut down the Palace of Versailles, one of France's top tourist destinations, amid fears of unrest.

Drouet subsequently changed plans and called for protesters to unite in Paris' famous Montmartre district.

After making their way there, protesters dissipated throughout Paris in small groups.

Violent exchanges between protesters and police were observed at Paris's Champs-Elysées Avenue

Vandal or victim?

Eric Drouet is a truck driver from the Parisian suburb of Melun who defines himself as "apolitical" and "grass-roots".

He created a Facebook page in October, calling for a "national strike against rising fuel prices"

The page was followed by hundreds of thousands of people, and is believed to be the catalyst for 'Act I' of the Yellow Vest movement on October 17.

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