A man has been jailed for slapping French President Emmanuel Macron in the face.
Damien Tarel, 28, said he hit the French leader impulsively with a ‘rather violent’ slap that caught his left cheek with an audible thwack on Tuesday.
A court in the city of Valence, south-east France, convicted Tarel on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority.
He was sentenced to four months in prison and given an additional 14-month suspended sentence.
Tarel has also been banned from ever holding public office and from owning weapons for five years.
At his trial today, he described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right ‘patriot’ and member of the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook Mr Macron’s presidency in 2018 and 2019.
He was heard shouting a centuries-old royalist war cry before striking the politician as he greeted a crowd on a visit to the Drome region.
During his trial, Tarel said the attack was impulsive, unplanned and prompted by anger at France’s ‘decline’.
He said: ‘When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction.
‘It was an impulsive reaction. I was surprised myself by the violence.’
He firmly defended his action and his views on Mr Macron, without providing details of what policies he wants France to change.
He said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, but that they dropped the idea and he insisted the slap was not pre-meditated.
Tarel added: ‘I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,’ without elaborating on what he meant.
He told investigators that he held right or ultra-right political convictions without being a member of a party or group, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Mr Macron would not comment on the trial today, but insisted that ‘nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, ever’.
He told broadcaster BFM-TV: ‘It’s not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time.
‘We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is.’
But the president added: ‘We must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect’.
Mr Macron will be away from domestic antagonists this weekend as he joins world leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall.
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