The tripping of a police officer in Germany's eastern city of Leipzig during New Year's violence has resulted a conviction against a street artist. Clashes in a left-wing suburb led to a federal row over policing.
Leipzig's administrative court on Wednesday convicted a 27-year-old street artist for assaulting and resisting a police officer during fast-track proceedings, handing the acrobat a six-month suspended jail term. The sentence also included 60 hours of community work.
The officer — running through a side street on New Year's Eve during a large police deployment in Connewitz, a Leipzig suburb known for its left-wing activism — had been tripped, suffering arm and ankle injuries despite protective clothing.
Read more: Don't ignore far-left extremism, say police
Presiding Judge Uwe Berdon said he accepted the accused's apologetic statement that he was not opposed to the police presence and had committed "colossal foolishness" while under the influence of alcohol.
The police officer injured on New Year's testified that while running he saw the tall, curly-headed male accused out of the corner of his eye.
"And then I tumbled — as has already been said — pell-mell onto the ground," he told the court.
Inquiries continue into New Year's violence
Prosecutors said the convicted artist had had nothing to do with an alleged attempted murder during the Connewitz unrest of another 38-year-old police officer, whose attacker has not been identified.
Horst Seehofer, whose federal Interior Ministry has faced accusations over the years of lax handling of far-right extremism, last Thursday said events in Connewitz also "shows that inhumane violence also comes from the left-wing extremist scene."
Shortly after midnight on New Year's, police said a squad was barraged with fireworks by a group of people pushing a burning shopping cart. Ten people were arrested.
Police tactics criticized
Juliane Nabel, a member of the ex-communist Left Party in Saxony state's assembly, said the violence against police was unjustified but criticized police tactics and communications on the night in Connewitz.
Leipzig, a city of nearly 600,000 and the largest in Saxony state — with its capital in Dresden — is an epicenter for rival subcultures on both the far left and far right.
In October 1989, Leipzig was the scene of decisive demonstrations against the former German Democratic Republic's (GDR) communist regime that resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall the following month.
Leipzig also hosts a major annual book fair and from the mid-19th century was a hub of trade unionism.
ipj/stb (dpa, epd, AFP)