ROUEN: A “Yellow Vest” (Gilets jaunes) anti-government protester is detained by security personnel in Rouen, north-western France on January 5, 2019, during a nationwide day of demonstrations. — AFP

PARIS: French police were hunting for a ex-professional boxer yesterday who was filmed at the weekend punching an officer on a bridge in central Paris during a demonstration by “yellow vest” protesters. The shocking images show the heavily built man land several punches on a policeman who falls to the ground and is then kicked by protesters wearing yellow vests, just a few hundred metres (yards) from the national parliament building.
“Sir, you knocked a colleague to the ground. You have been identified,” said a tweet from France’s SCPN police union said. “For a boxer, apparently you don’t respect any of the rules. You are going to learn those of the criminal code.” The man, named by French media as 37-year-old Christophe Dettinger, is a former heavyweight professional boxer who reportedly works for the local government in the Essonne area south of Paris.

‘Surrender plea’
The French boxing federation issued a statement condemning the violence, saying that it “ran completely contrary to the values of our sport.” “The French Boxing Federation sends its support to the family and loved ones of the officer who was a victim of this individual, but equally to all the security forces who have been on duty these last weeks,” it said.
Dettinger’s former coach, Jacky Trompesauce, urged the father of three to give himself up to police after he was caught on camera on the Leopold-Sedar-Senghor bridge which links the Tuileries gardens to the Musee d’Orsay. “There was something that set it off, which I learned overnight,” Trompesauce told RMC radio yesterday morning. “There was a women who was attacked by CRS (riot police).”

Attacking and injuring a police officer in France can lead to up to three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros (51,000 dollars), though sentences can be increased in certain circumstances. Around 50,000 protesters took to the streets again on Saturday in cities around France to protest the centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron, leading to clashes in Paris and Bordeaux.

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”. Protests against fuel taxes began in rural and small-town France in late November, but then mushroomed into a wider revolt during December against the policies and governing style of 41-year-old Macron. On Friday, Griveaux had denounced those still protesting as “agitators who want insurrection and, basically, to overthrow the government”. – AFP