April 29, 2016 / 5:51 PM / 4 years ago

Buenos Aires nightclubs ordered closed by judge after drug deaths

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Buenos Aires’ nightclubs were ordered closed by a judge on Friday in response to the drug-related deaths of five people at a music festival in the city this month but nightclub owners vowed to ignore the order.

The capital’s iconic tango milongas and dance get-togethers held at cultural centres are exempt from the ruling by municipal judge Roberto Andrés Gallardo, which otherwise calls for an end to “all commercial activity involving dancing with live or recorded music.”

Nightclub owners said they would not follow the ruling, pointing out that the deaths took place at an electronic music festival at an events complex, not a typical nightclub.

“How do you obey a totally unconstitutional order like this one?” Jorge Becco, head of the Buenos Aires chamber of discotheque owners, told local television. “It’s like shutting the vegetable store because you found food poisoning at the butcher shop.”

The ruling said the closure will last until the city government presents a plan for controlling illegal drug sales and irregularities at “electronic music parties.”

The ruling is aimed at venues that play electronic music but said all clubs were being closed while authorities determine which ones feature that genre. The closure then will be enforced only on electronic music venues.

Five people died and five were hospitalized after taking illegal drugs on the first day of the Time Warp music festival on April 16.

Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Bill Trott

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