Italian minister Di Maio shows support for French 'yellow vests'

The boxer punching a police officer

YELLOW VESTS A former pro boxer was filmed punching riot police in France

The former French boxing champion who landed punches on French riot police has turned himself in, saying he was defending himself.

A website set up to raise funds for the boxer Christophe Dettinger showed early on Tuesday that it had received pledges of more than 114,000 euros (£102,316) to help him.

As the situation in France escalates, the anti-Emmanuel Macron protesters - aka The Gilets Jaunes (the yellow vests) - plan to make a run on the country's banks.

Seven weeks into a rebellion marked by weekly clashes in Paris and other French cities, Mr Philippe on Monday said the government would introduce a "new law punishing those who do not respect the requirement to declare (protests), those who take part in unauthorised demonstrations and those who arrive at demonstrations wearing face masks".

The SCSI-CFDT police union, for its part, said the funds should be seized to compensate the two officers targeted by Dettinger, who were removed from duty while recovering from their injuries. "I've chose to step away from the national debate because it will be hard to ensure the calm that's needed for the talks", she said.

Christophe Dettinger handed himself to police and was immediately detained.

In response, Dettinger said he had become angry after he, his wife and a friend had been teargassed, though he said he had acted wrongly. "I'm not sure what being interested in the yellow vests has to do with the well-being of the Italians".

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The new legislation is set to ban known "troublemakers" from participating in protests, in the same way known football hooligans have been prevented from attending matches in stadiums in the past.

Just like the yellow vest movement, Di Maio's party has heavily relied on the concept of direct democracy since being founded by comedian Beppe Grillo and web strategist Gianroberto Casaleggio in 2009.

Activist Maxime Nicolle called it the "tax collector's referendum".

Recent surveys suggest 75 per cent of the public oppose his government's policies and 60 per cent were unimpressed by his New Year message, in which he said he understood popular anger but remained committed to his reform programme.

Images of a policeman striking several protesters in the southern city of Toulon on Saturday also risk fanning the flames. Moreover, he openly criticised the French government.

It was the latest round of weekly protests since mid-November, with another major demonstration called for Saturday.

While the French government has scrapped its planned hike in diesel taxes, which is what initially sparked the protests, the yellow vests have evolved into a broader movement against government policies and rising living costs.

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