Christophe Dettinger: French ‘yellow vest’ boxer convicted

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A mural of Dettinger throwing a punchImage copyright
Reuters

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Dettinger (photographed in a mural alongside the word freedom) has become known throughout France

A former French boxing champion has been convicted in Paris over an assault on a police officer at an anti-government “yellow vest” protest.

Christophe Dettinger was given 30 months, 18 of them suspended. He will be able to serve the 12 months in what is termed “semi-liberty”.

He was filmed on 5 January throwing punches in a widely-shared clip.

The protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes but broadened into a revolt against President Emmanuel Macron.

Reports from the courtroom suggested Dettinger’s supporters were happy with the sentence. He could have been jailed for seven years.

French media say “semi-liberty” means Dettinger will serve night times in prison and be at liberty during the day.

His case, and the yellow vest movement, have divided the country.

The 37-year-old handed himself into police custody two days after the alleged incident.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

The former junior heavyweight champion handed himself into police last month

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.

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, 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 protesters.

Another protester, Gwenaelle Antinori Le Joncour, spoke as a witness in Dettinger’s defence in the one-day 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.

Image copyright
AFP

Image caption

His lawyer has argued he was responding to Ms Le Joncour (pictured in court) being assaulted after falling

The number of gilets jaunes (yellow vest) protesters 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.



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