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France

Former boxer arrested for assault during Yellow Vest protest

media Christophe Dettinger was arrested following an alleged assault on a police officer during a gilets jaunes demonstration. AFP

French police have arrested a former professional boxer who was seen in Paris punching officers during the eighth weekend of Yellow Vest protests.

In images filmed on 5 January, a man in a black duffel coat can be seen squaring up to police officers before knocking one down in a flurry of punches and then kicking him on the ground.

One of the officers is then beaten by other protesters wearing yellow vests before being rescued by fellow riot police in protective equipment and helmets.

The man, identified by French media as 37-year-old Christophe Dettinger, is a former heavyweight fighter who was known in the ring as "The Gypsy From Massy".

He could face up to three years in jail and a 45,000 euro fine if convicted of assaulting a police officer.

Interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said Dettinger had handed himself into police in Paris on Monday. "He was immediately arrested and will be held accountable for his acts by the justice system," Castaner added.

Dettinger posted a video on social media on Sunday in which he said he had supported the Yellow Vests since the beginning and denounced repression from the French police.

"I was tear gassed with my friend, my wife. Anger rose up in me and, yes, I reacted badly. I defended myself," he said.

Around 50,000 gilets jaunes protesters took to the streets for the eighth consecutive weekend on 5 January in cities around France to denounce the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

In some of the worst violence, several men in Paris drove a forklift truck through the doors to the ministry building of government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

While the number of demonstrators has dwindled from the 282,000 high of the first rallies on 17 November, the determination of a smaller but increasingly radical core of protesters has forced the government to rethink its economic and security policies.

The prime minister, Edouard Philippe, is expected to announce tough measures to tackle the violence in an interview on TF1 on Monday night.

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