Christophe Dettinger: French ‘yellow vest’ boxer convicted

A former French boxing champion has been convicted for assaulting two police officers at an anti-government « yellow vest » protest in Paris.

Christophe Dettinger, 37, was filmed on 5 January throwing punches in footage that was widely shared on social media.

He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Eighteen months of the sentence are suspended, and he will be able to serve the 12 months in what is termed « semi-liberty ».

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

  • Who are the ‘gilets jaunes’?

Dettinger’s case, and the yellow vest movement, have divided France.

In a separate development on Wednesday, the restaurant of a Michelin-starred French chef was targeted in a suspected arson attack – the second time in two weeks.

Prosecutors are now investigating whether Yannick Delpech’s restaurant L’Amphitryon was set ablaze in retaliation for his criticism of the « yellow vest » movement.

What did the court rule?

The verdict was announced by the Paris Criminal Court on Wednesday.

It said that Dettinger would spend one year in prison in the « semi-liberty » regime.

That means he will serve night times in jail, but will be at liberty during the day.

He is also banned from staying in Paris for six months.

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

During the trial, he said he had made a « mistake » after seeing police clashing with protesters.

Why is the case so divisive?

Dettinger, who was France’s cruiserweight champion in 2007-08, handed himself into police custody two days after the 5 January protest.

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 the 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, Dettinger posted a video of himself on YouTube explaining his actions.

  • Les gilets jaunes: The full story

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.

« He was seeing a woman of 47 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) 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 protesters 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.

Source: BBC

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