Yellow vest boxer sought over assault

French riot police stand guard on a bridge over the Seine river overlooking protesters below as clashes erupt during a "yellow vests" protest in Paris, on 5 January 2019Image copyright

Image caption

The man was filmed apparently hitting the policeman on a Paris bridge

A former professional boxer who was filmed at the weekend apparently punching a police officer on a bridge in Paris during a “yellow vest” protest has been detained by police in France.

In the footage, a man hits the policeman, who falls to the ground and is kicked by protesters.

His former coach has defended the boxer, saying the incident was in response to a police attack on a woman.

Some 50,000 protesters took to the streets on Saturday in French cities.

The man, who has been named by French media as 37-year-old Christophe Dettinger, is a former heavyweight professional boxer.

He gave himself up to police and was immediately detained, the French interior minister tweeted.

He was accompanied by his lawyer, and a search has also been conducted at his home, reports say.

His former coach, Jacky Trompesauce, had earlier urged him to give himself up, and said the alleged assault had been provoked by police brutality.

“There was something that set it off, which I learned overnight,” Mr Trompesauce told RMC TV on Monday. “There was a woman who was attacked by the CRS [riot police].”

The former boxer now works as public servant at a town hall south of Paris, reports say.

The police officers’ union, the SCPN, and the minister of the interior had published the man’s picture on Twitter without naming him.

The SCNP tweeted this message to him: “Sir, you knocked a colleague to the ground. You have been identified.

“For a boxer, apparently you don’t respect any of the rules. You are going to learn those of the criminal code.”

Two gendarmes caught in Saturday’s clash on the Léopold-Sédar-Senghor bridge which links the Tuileries gardens to the Musée d’Orsay have filed a complaint, the AFP news agency reports.

New Year protests

At the weekend, there were renewed yellow-vest protests after a lull over the festive period.

About 50,000 people took to the streets again on Saturday in cities around France – more than the previous week’s protest, but fewer than the 280,000 who turned out in November.

Several men driving a forklift truck also smashed open the doors of the ministry of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux in Paris, who denounced the break-in as an “unacceptable attack on the Republic”.

What began as a protest about a fuel tax back in November has escalated into widespread anger at rising living costs.

The protest began as a grassroots French provincial movement with people donning high-visibility jackets, which by law must be carried by every vehicle in France.

It broadened to include issues involving families’ struggle to make ends meet, with calls for higher wages, lower taxes, better pensions and easier university entry requirements.

Mr Macron made a raft of economic concessions in December to appease the protesters. But he struck a defiant tone in his new year address, saying the government would push on with its reform programme, and would “make no allowances in guaranteeing public order.”

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