The 66-year-old protestor Dietrich Wagner is almost completely blind after being hit in the face by a police water cannon during a demonstration in September against controversial plans to revamp the city’s main train station.
The photo of the bloodied pensioner being helped away from the scene has become a rallying point for opponents of the massive rail project known as Stuttgart 21.
In late December the retired engineer told Stern news magazine that had lost his independence and demanded an apology from state premier Mappus to the people of Stuttgart.
But in an interview excerpt released ahead of publication this week’s Die Zeit, Mappus said he had “no feelings of guilt at all” over Wagner’s injury.
“Naturally I feel sorry for the man,” he told the newspaper. “But he was led away from the site several times by police. He was told that it could be dangerous, but he returned repeatedly.”
In the Stern interview Wagner insisted he bore no responsibility for his injuries, as police had previously suggested, releasing a video of Wagner throwing objects at officers. He said he had expected to get wet or bruised, “but not to be blasted blind.”
Mappus was vague about the question of blame.
“I find it inappropriate to speak about blame when it comes to someone with severe injuries,” he told Die Zeit. “But I also find it illegitimate to place the blame on others.”
Stuttgart 21 consists of a massive construction effort, involving rebuilding the city’s main train station underground and turning it around 90 degrees, as well as laying 57 kilometres of new tracks. The aim is to make the city a major European rail hub.