Shoe-throwing German student goes on trial in Cambridge

A German student at Britain's Cambridge University went on trial Monday accused of harrassing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao by throwing a shoe at him.

Shoe-throwing German student goes on trial in Cambridge
Photo: DPA

Martin Jahnke, 27, a pathology postgraduate, is charged with pitching a sneaker at Wen as he spoke at the university on February 2.

Prosecutors say he behaved in a way “likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress” but Jahnke denied a public order offence at a previous hearing.

The trial at Cambridge Magistrates Court in eastern England is expected to last for three days.

Wen was giving the lecture the last day of a European tour when he was interrupted by a protester shouting “this is a scandal” and branding him a dictator.

The protester threw a sports shoe, which hit the stage close to the Chinese leader, and was then escorted out of the auditorium.

Wen described the action as “despicable” before resuming his speech. But he has since urged that the student be allowed to continue his studies at Cambridge, one of the English-speaking world’s most prestigious universities.

The Chinese premier has insisted that the incident would not harm relations with Britain.

The alleged offence is contrary to section four of the Public Order Act 1986 and if found guilty, Jahnke could face six months in prison and a 5,000-pound ($7,400 dollar) fine as a maximum sentence.

Jahnke could face disciplinary action by the authorities at the university, where he reportedly carries out important genetic research into debilitating diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

The university said a complaint had been made and it was being looked into.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Alison Richard said at the time that she “deeply regret(s)” the protest. “This university is a place for considered argument and debate, not forshoe-throwing,” she added.

China’s ambassador to Britain, Fu Ying, was quoted on the Chinese foreign ministry website as saying in February: “It is hoped that the university will give the student an opportunity to continue his studies…

“As a Chinese saying goes, it is more precious than gold for a young person to turn himself around to redress mistakes,” Fu said.

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.