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Protester against ECB "dictatorship" showers Draghi with confetti

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A woman protesting against the European Central Bank leapt onto a desk in front of ECB President Mario Draghi on Wednesday as he spoke at a news conference, disrupting the usually sombre event before she was carried away.

“End the ECB dictatorship,” she shouted, throwing confetti and sheets of paper at Draghi as she stood above him. Her T-shirt bore a similar message, spelling it “Dick-tatorship”.

On a sheet of paper she left behind criticising “this illegitimate institution”, she wrote: “A press conference is not enough to call it democracy ... The ECB’s debt is not yet paid.”

A startled Draghi held up his hands as the woman showered him with the confetti. After the brief interruption, he returned to the podium to continue the news conference.

The woman flashed a V for victory sign and smiled as two men in grey suits bundled her away holding her arms and legs.

A women’s rights group calling itself FEMEN international claimed responsibility for the protest on Twitter. German police said they had detained a 21-year-old woman from Hamburg.

In a statement, the ECB said the activist had registered as a journalist and had gone through security checks before she entered the building.

The ECB has been at pains to distance itself from politics in Europe but many distrust the influential institution. Recent violent protests in Frankfurt have targeted the ECB for the spending cuts demanded in Greece and elsewhere.

Additional reporting by Caroline Copley in Berlin; Writing by Jeremy Gaunt and John O’Donnell; Editing by Alison Williams