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German ballet director issues apology over feces attack

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BERLIN — A German ballet director issued a public apology on Tuesday for smearing dog feces on the face of a newspaper critic whose reviews he had taken exception to.

Marco Goecke was suspended from his post as ballet chief at the Hannover state opera following the weekend incident. T he theater’s management called on him Monday to apologize “comprehensively” and explain himself.

According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Goecke approached its dance critic, Wiebke Huester, during the interval of a premiere at the opera house on Saturday and asked what she was doing there.

The newspaper said that Goecke, who apparently felt provoked by a recent review she wrote of a production he staged in the Netherlands, threatened to ban her from the ballet and accused her of being responsible for people canceling season tickets in Hannover. He then pulled out a paper bag with the feces and smeared her face with the contents.

“I would like to apologize sincerely to all concerned, first and foremost to Ms. Huester, for my absolutely unacceptable act,” Goecke said in a written statement. “In retrospect, I am clearly aware that this was a disgraceful act in the heat of the moment and an overreaction,” he added.

However, he added that it’s time for media to “rethink a certain form of destructive and hurtful reporting that damages the whole cultural sector” and criticized Huester for what he said were “often nasty reviews.”

Goecke pointed to the “nervous strain” resulting from two premieres in quick succession as a reason for his actions.

“I apologize for the fact that I finally blew my top, but I also ask for a certain understanding at least for the reasons why this happened,” he wrote.

Huester filed a criminal complaint after the incident. Goecke faces an investigation on suspicion of bodily harm and slander.

Goecke has said his elderly dachshund had defecated earlier, and he had packed the mess into a bag and had been planning to dispose of it. While he says he then acted in the heat of the moment, the critic has contended that it was a premeditated attack.

Huester said she was shocked by Goecke’s statement on Tuesday.

“What kind of an apology is this supposed to be?” she asked on 3sat television, describing it as an attempted justification of his actions, German news agency dpa reported.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.