CHRISTOPHE DETTINGER THE FRENCH ‘YELLOW VEST’ BOXER GOES ON TRIAL
A former French boxing champion has gone on trial in Paris over accusations he assaulted a police officer.
Christophe Dettinger was filmed on 5 January throwing punches during an anti-government “yellow vest” protest. The clip was then shared widely.
The protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes but have now broadened into a revolt movement against President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Dettinger’s case, and the yellow vest movement, has divided the country.
The 37-year-old handed himself into police custody two days after the alleged incident.
His trial opened in Paris on Wednesday, attracting significant media interest.
If found guilty, he could a maximum of seven years in prison.
Following his arrest, more than €114,000 (£102,000) was raised in a fundraiser for the former boxer. Thousands left comments in support, including some opposition politicians.
The page was then removed after sharp criticism that it condoned violence against police.
Mr Dettinger, a father-of-three, had been working as a public servant in the south of the city before the incident.
Before handing himself in to police last month, Mr Dettinger posted a video of himself on YouTube explaining his actions.
In it, he described himself as an “ordinary citizen” who had “reacted wrongly” in anger after witnessing police using tear-gas and flash-ball (rubber bullet) rounds against protestors.
Another protestor, Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour, has spoken as a witness in Mr Dettinger’s defence at the first day of his trial on Wednesday.
“It was seeing a woman of forty-seven kilos being hit and seeing my oldest son being hit that he couldn’t stand, because there was too much violence,” she said in court.
The number of gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protestors taking to French streets has been gradually falling – but tens of thousands are still turning out weekly to demonstrate across France.
Their protests have often turned violent, causing damage – including to some of Paris’ most famous monuments.
Hundreds of injuries and a number of deaths have also been linked to the demonstrations.
Almost 1,800 people have been sentenced in court so far, mostly with destruction of public property and attacks on the police, AFP reports.
Another 1,400 more protestors are still awaiting trial, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday.
Eric Drouet, one of the group’s leading figures, is due to appear in court in Paris on Friday on charges of illegally organising a demonstration.