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Chinese premier's shoe thrower faces court
Updated: 2009-02-09 22:12

LONDON -- The student protestor who threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will appear in court Tuesday accused of threatening behaviour, and could also face punishment from his university, officials said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivers his speech at the University of Cambridge, eastern England Monday February 2, 2009. The student protestor who threw a shoe at Chinese Premier Wen will appear in court Tuesday accused of threatening behaviour, and could also face punishment from his university, officials said. [Agencies]

Martin Jahnke, 27, a German national at Cambridge University's department of pathology, was arrested following the protest last Monday as Wen gave a speech in the city.

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China condemned the incident as "despicable," but Wen has urged that the student be allowed to continue his studies at the prestigious university.

Jahnke will appear at Cambridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, said a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service, the official prosecuting body in England and Wales.

"He is charged with one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear of or to provoke violence" contrary to the Public Order Act, he said.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a 5,000-pound fine.

A spokesman for Cambridge University said Jahnke could face internal disciplinary action if the offence is deemed sufficiently serious by the Advocate, an officer who conducts prosecutions over breaches of academic rules.

"There has been a complaint made to the Advocate, who will consider it," said spokesman Tim Holt.

"If the Advocate considers the charges merit, there will be an internal tribunal hearing, to consider action against the student. The university has thorough disciplinary procedures in place for all manner of offences."

But he said of Jahnke's actions: "It's too early to judge."

According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Jahnke carries out important genetic research into debilitating diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis under a group led by Professor John Trowsdale.

His work has been published in the Journal of Biochemistry and he has delivered lunchtime seminars to other graduate students, it said. In his spare time, he is a keen member of the university caving club.

Wen was giving a speech in Cambridge at the end of a three-day visit to Britain when he was interrupted by the protester.

The sports trainer landed about a yard away from Wen, who watched it hit the stage but kept his composure.

Wen continued speaking, condemning the action as "despicable". But he said it "cannot stand in the way of friendship between China and the United Kingdom", receiving a round of applause from the audience.

At the weekend Wen called for the student to be allowed to continue his studies, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

"I would like to hereby convey the following from Premier Wen: Education is the best help for a young student," China's ambassador to Britain Fu Ying was quoted saying in comments posted on the foreign ministry website.

"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 Jahnke "lacks knowledge about China," adding, "It is hoped that this student will see his mistake and seek to understand a real and developing China."