- Under French law, prison sentences of less than two years can be converted into non-custodial punishment…
A French court on Thursday sentenced a man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron across the face this week to a prison term of 18 months, 14 of which were suspended.
Damien Tarel, a 28-year-old medieval history enthusiast, has been in custody since the assault on Tuesday which a prosecutor called “absolutely unacceptable” and “an act of deliberate violence”.
Speaking at court in the town of Valence, 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 unlikely that Tarel would spend time behind bars even if the court followed the prosecution’s plea.
The long-haired history buff and 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 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.
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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.
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