A man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron during a meet and greet on Tuesday was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison, with 14 of them suspended.
Damien Tarel, 28, acknowledged that he had caught Macron with a “pretty violent” blow, but testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned.
“When I saw his friendly and lying gaze, I felt disgust and had a violent reaction,” he told the court in the city of Valence, in the southeast of the country. “It was an impulsive reaction. … I myself was surprised by the violence. “
Videos showed him slapping the French leader on the left cheek as he met with members of the public, who stood behind traffic barriers in the wine town of Tain-l’Hermitage, about 55 miles south of Lyon. .
You could hear him yelling “Montjoie! Saint Denis! a centuries-old realistic war cry, before ending with “A bas la Macronie” or “Down with Macron,” and catching it with an audible thump.
Macron’s bodyguards quickly pushed Tarel away and immediately arrested him.
While Tarel said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or cream pie to throw at the president, he said they dropped the idea and insisted the slap was not premeditated.
Without providing details of what policies he wants France to change, Tarel told the court that he thought Macron represented “the decline of our country.”
He told investigators that he had right or far right political convictions without being a member of a party or group, according to the prosecutor’s office.
In addition to serving four months in prison, Tarel was banned from holding public office in France and possessing weapons for five years after being convicted of a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority, which carries a maximum penalty of three. years in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros ($ 55,000).
Macron declined to comment on the trial on Thursday, but told French broadcaster BFM-TV that “nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, never.”
“It’s not that important to get slapped when you go into a crowd to greet some people who have been waiting for a long time,” he said.
Another detainee in the uproar that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C., will be tried at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons.
The prosecution said that in addition to finding weapons, the police who searched Arthur C.’s home also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” manifesto and two flags, one symbolizing the communists. and another to the Russians. revolution.