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Angry theater manager rams French presidential palace

An Italian theater manager was arrested Thursday after - slowly - ramming his car into the gates of the French presidential palace in Paris. He was protesting against arts subsidy cuts that impacted his venue.

Attilio Maggiulli's drastic action was seen as largely symbolic - or even theatrical - since he "only succeeded in lightly hitting the grills at slow speed," a police source said.

"He was immediately arrested and placed in custody," the source close to the investigation told French news agency AFP. "If his aim was to be talked about, he has succeeded. But he may have to pay for that."

The 67-year-old was later released without charge, but was slightly injured in the collision and had to be taken to hospital.

Other police sources said Maggiulli, who runs a 100-seat theatre in the city's Montparnasse district, had staged another protest near the Elysee palace a few days ago, setting fire to a model of a harlequin.

He had scattered leaflets onto public roads slamming a cut in subsidies for his theater, La Comedie Italienne, which stages classical and contemporary Italian works.

Maggiulli was briefly held for questioning by police following that incident.

A student of the well-known Italian opera and theater director Giorgio Strehler, Maggiulli has a record of staging stunts to highlight his theatre's financial woes, including a hunger strike 10 years ago.

bk/msh (AFP, Reuters)