German shoe-thrower pleads not guilty over Wen attack

February 11th, 2009 - 2:54 am ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 11 (DPA) A German student who hurled a shoe at Chinese premier Wen Jiabao during his recent visit to Cambridge University in Britain pleaded not guilty to the charge of committing a public order offence and inciting violence Tuesday.

Martin Jahnke, a 27-year-old graduate student at the university’s pathology department, appeared at Cambridge Magistrate’s Court Tuesday before being released on bail. His trial date has been set for March 10.

During the five-minute hearing, for which he appeared in a black suit and blue T-shirt, Jahnke spoke only to confirm his name and gave his address as Darwin College.

Jahnke, who appeared nervous and shy and refused to speak to the media, has been working as a researcher at Cambridge for several years, specialising in diabetes and arthritis research.

“I would prefer not to speak to the press before the case is over,” he told DPA.

Jahnke was arrested Feb 2 for throwing a shoe at Wen, who was giving a speech on the global economy to an audience of mostly Chinese students during an official visit to Britain.

He also shouted “dictator” and “how can you listen to such lies unchallenged”, as he hurled the shoe in Wen’s direction, urging the fellow-students to “get up and protest”.

The shoe missed Wen by about a metre.

By choosing this form of protest, Jahnke was emulating an Iraqi TV reporter who threw his shoes at former US President George W. Bush during a visit to Baghdad in December.

Media reports described Jahnke as a diligent student who regularly took part in expeditions with the university’s caving club. If convicted, he could face expulsion from the renowned university.

Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry Monday urged Cambridge University not to expel Jahnke.

“Education is the best help for a young student,” a statement by Wen, released via the Chinese ambassador in London, Fu Ying, said.

The ministry said it had received a letter of apology from the student and hoped that the university would give him the “opportunity to continue his studies”.

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

“It is hoped that this student will see his mistake and seek to understand a real and developing China,” it added.

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