A German ballet director has issued a public apology for smearing dog faeces 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.
The theatre’s management called on him on Monday to apologise “comprehensively” and explain himself.
According to the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mr 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 Mr 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 cancelling season tickets in Hannover.
He then pulled out a paper bag with the faeces and smeared her face with the contents.
“I would like to apologise sincerely to all concerned, first and foremost to Ms Huester, for my absolutely unacceptable act,” Mr 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 is time for media to “rethink a certain form of destructive and hurtful reporting that damages the whole cultural sector” and criticised Ms Huester for what he said were “often nasty reviews”.
Mr Goecke pointed to the “nervous strain” resulting from two premieres in quick succession as a reason for his actions.
“I apologise 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.
Ms Huester filed a criminal complaint after the incident. Mr Goecke faces an investigation on suspicion of bodily harm and slander.
Mr 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.
Ms Huester said she was shocked by Mr 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.
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