Probation for man who slapped Schröder

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The Independent Online

A former member of Germany's ruling party was given four months' probation yesterday for slapping Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

A former member of Germany's ruling party was given four months' probation yesterday for slapping Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Meanwhile, the Berlin government is bracing itself for further mass protests against its unpopular economic reforms.

Jens Ammoser, 52, an unemployed schoolteacher, was convicted of causing bodily harm and defamation after slapping Mr Schröder in the face at a Social Democrat Party (SPD) reception in Mannheim, south of Frankfurt, in May. Mr Ammoser was expelled from the SDP for his actions, which he says were prompted by Mr Schröder's Agenda 2010 economic reform programme, which will cut unemployment and welfare benefits.

As he arrived at court, Mr Ammoser distributed jokes about the Chancellor and carried a toy red devil mascot. "Don't worry, I stand by what I did," he told the court. After the attack, the Chancellor's office had filed a criminal complaint, arguing that Mr Ammoser should not go unpunished.

The prosecutor Heiko Klein said that Ammoser had attacked Mr Schröder "without any justification".

Mr Ammoser, unemployed since 1995, participated in the reception for new members of the Chancellor's Social Democrats after joining Mr Schröder's party earlier this year. He ran as a candidate in local elections in June, but was not elected.

The German government said it would step up security measures for Mr Schröder after anti-reform protesters hurled an egg at him and threw stones at government cars last week as the Chancellor was visiting east Germany. The egg missed Mr Schröder, but a stone hit a vehicle in his convoy.

Up to 100,000 protesters have taken part in anti-reform protests in scores of German towns on every Monday since the start of August.

Further mass demonstrations against the reforms are expected next week when the former left-wing German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine plans to address a protest rally in the east German city of Leipzig.

Mr Schröder has insisted that the attacks will not deter him from campaigning in east Germany, where state elections are to be held next month.

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