A French court has sentenced a man who slapped French President, Emmanuel Macron, across the face to 18-month jail, 14 of which will be suspended.
The convict, Damien Tarel, a 28-year-old medieval history enthusiast, earlier this week assaulted Macron during a public function.
He had been in custody since the assault on Tuesday, with the prosecutor describing the assault as “absolutely unacceptable” and “an act of deliberate violence”.
Speaking in court in the town of Valence, the prosecutor, Alex Perrin, 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 not likely that Tarel would spend time behind bars, even if the court followed the prosecution’s plea.
Tarel, who is also described as board games enthusiast, told investigators that 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 president 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.
In a video of the incident, a smiling Macron can be seen striding towards a crowd of onlookers including Tarel who are being kept behind a barrier.