Man Who Slapped Emmanuel Macron Risks 3-Year Jail Term, Gives Reason For Shocking Action
The possible sentence was made known during his first court appearance on Thursday, during which the 28-year-old medieval history enthusiast expressed that he acted “without thinking”.
The man, named as Damien Tarel, has been in custody since the incident on Tuesday and is expected to be convicted of assaulting a public figure when he appears at special emergency trial in the southeastern city of Valence.
Tarel was immediately arrested after the incident which occurred as the French leader was greeting a crowd in the region on Tuesday.
He faces a maximum three-year jail sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros ($55,000), although the court will take into account the defendant’s clean criminal record and any expression of remorse.
A 28-year-old man acknowledged hitting the president with a “rather violent” slap, telling the court;
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.
While he said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, he said they dropped the idea — and insisted that the slap wasn’t premeditated.
“He contends that he acted instinctively and ‘without thinking’ to express his annoyance,” a statement from the local prosecutor’s office said late on Wednesday.
“I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,” Tarel said, without explaining what he meant.
Tarel, described by friends as usually shy and placid, also told investigators that he sympathised with anti-government “yellow vest” protesters and leaned to the right/far-right in his political views, but had no party affiliation.
The long-haired resident of the village of Saint-Villier, who has no fixed profession, is passionate about medieval history and martial arts and shouted an old royalist slogan as he struck the president.
His friend, named as Arthur C., was arrested at the same time on Tuesday having filmed the slap, but will not be charged over the incident, the prosecutor said.
Macron shrugged off the assault, calling it an “isolated event”, and he has vowed to continue meeting voters despite concerns for his personal security.
Leaders across the political spectrum have shown rare unity in condemning the incident, with many seeing it as a symptom of the fraught political climate and declining public debate just weeks from regional elections and 10 months from presidential polls.
Macron, 43, whose personal ratings have risen recently, is expected to seek a second term next year.
Polls show him holding a narrow lead over his main rival, far-right leader, Marine Le Pen.