A French court has sentenced one 28-year-old, Damien Tarel to a prison term of 18 months for slapping the French President, Emmanuel Macron on the face earlier this week.
Damien who is a medieval history enthusiast, has been in custody since the assault on Tuesday.
According to report, prosecutor Alex Perrin who spoke at the court in Valence town, called for an 18-month prison term after describing the slap as “absolutely unacceptable” and “an act of deliberate violence”.
Under French law, prison sentences of less than two years can be converted into non-custodial punishment, meaning it is unlikely that Damien would spend time behind bars even if the court followed the prosecution’s plea.
Speaking with investigators, Damien said he “acted instinctively and without thinking” after waiting for Macron outside a school in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage.
In court, he expressed sympathy for the anti-government “yellow vest” movement and said that he and two friends had considered throwing an egg or a cream pie at the head of state during his visit to the Drome region, according to the BFM news channel.
“Macron represents the decline of our country,” he told the court.
Tarel, unemployed and living on benefits with his disabled girlfriend, said he had been annoyed by Macron’s decision to come to greet him — “an electoral tactic that I didn’t appreciate”, BFM reported.
Commenting on the incident, Macron called the act “stupid, violent act” and suggested it was a consequence of the poisonous atmosphere found on social media.
“You get used to the hatred on social media that becomes normalised, and then when you’re face-to-face with someone, you think it’s the same thing. That’s unacceptable.” he said.
Recall that President Macron was slapped in the face during a walkabout in a village of Tain-l’Hermitage in the Drome region on Tuesday, 8th June 2021.
According to a viral video, Macron was seen greeting a crowd of people standing behind a metal barrier, before an unknown man in the crowd shouting “Down with Macronia” (“A Bas La Macronie”) slapped him.
Macron’s presidency was rocked by the anti-government “yellow vest” protests in 2018-2019, which were driven in part by anger at his economic reforms as well as his abrasive personality.
Macron who is 43 years old is seeking a second term next year.