A medieval martial arts enthusiast who slapped the French president, Emmanuel Macron, across the face will appear before a judge in a fast-track trial on Thursday.
Damien Tarel had acknowledged striking Macron while the president was on a visit to a professional training college, but told investigators it was not premeditated, the prosecutor Alex Perrin said in a statement.
The unemployed 28-year-old said during interrogation he had been close to the anti-government gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protest movement that shook the Macron presidency, and held ultra-rightwing political beliefs.
“He maintained that he acted out of impulse and ‘without thinking’ to express his discontent,” Perrin said in a statement late on Wednesday.
Tarel’s attack on the president stunned the country. Macron later described it as an isolated incident and said violence and hate were a threat to democracy.
The president had been on a trip to the Drôme region in south-east 法国 to take the country’s pulse after the pandemic and with less than a year to go before the next presidential election.
Acquaintances of Tarel described a man who loved period role play and was not a troublemaker. The prosecutor said he was not a member of any political or militant group.
Tarel was arrested along with a second man from his home town of Saint-Vallier. Police found weapons, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf, and a communist red flag in the second man’s home, Perrin said.
The second man will not face any charges related to the slapping but will be prosecuted for illegal possession of arms in 2022.