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BERLIN (AP) — The Hannover State Opera said Thursday that it is ending its contract with ballet director Marco Goecke after he smeared dog feces on the face of a newspaper critic whose reviews he had taken exception to.

Goecke was suspended from his post as ballet chief this week after the Saturday attack on dance critic Wiebke Huester of German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The confrontation took place during the interval of a premiere at the opera house.

The theater’s management had called on him to apologize “comprehensively” and explain himself. Goecke later issued a statement describing his behavior as “absolutely unacceptable” but said he had acted ”in the heat of the moment” and while suffering from “nervous strain” resulting from two premieres in quick succession.

He accused Huester of writing “often nasty reviews.”

“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 said.

The attack and Goecke’s tepid apology were widely criticized. Hannover’s mayor, Belit Onay, said attacks on press freedom should have “no place” in the city.

The head of the opera house, Laura Berman, said its contract with Goecke would be dissolved with immediate effect by mutual agreement and that he would be permitted to access the premises for the time being.