The 28-year-old man, Damien Tarel who slapped Franceâs president, Emmanuel Macron, in the face has been sentenced to four months in prison.
A court in the south-east city of Valence convicted Tarel on Thursday June 10, on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority. He was given four months in prison and an additional 14-month suspended sentence, and was banned from ever holding public office and from owning weapons for five years.
Tarel described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right âpatriotâ and member of the gilets jaunes economic protest movement.
After the incident, Tarel acknowledged hitting the president with a ârather violentâ slap. âWhen I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,â he told the court. âIt was an impulsive reaction â¦ I was surprised myself by the violence.â
He said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, but had dropped the idea â and insisted that the slap wasnât premeditated.
âI think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,â he said, without explaining what he meant.
Macron wouldn’t comment Thursday on the trial, but insisted that ânothing justifies violence in a democratic society, never.â
âItâs 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,â he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM-TV. âWe must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is.â
At the same time, the president added, âwe must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect.â
Another man arrested in the ruckus that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C, will be judged at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons.
The prosecutorâs office said that as well as finding weapons, police who searched the home of Arthur C also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitlerâs manifesto Mein Kampf and two flags, one symbolising communists and another of the Russian Revolution.