PARIS – The medieval martial arts enthusiast who slapped President Emmanuel Macron in the face told the court he was a right-wing sympathizer who acted because the president represented everything that was rotten with France, reports BFM TV.
Damien Tarel, 28, told the court in Valence that he was thinking of throwing an egg or a baobab to the president a few days before Macron’s visit to the southeastern Dream region, the news channel reported.
“I think Macron represents the decay of our country very neatly,” he told the court, according to BFM TV. “If I were to challenge Macron to a duel at sunrise, I doubt he would respond.”
Macron later described the attack as an isolated incident, saying that violence and hatred were a threat to democracy.
Tarel is facing a charge of assault against a public official, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of € 45,000.
He slammed Macron on Tuesday after the president visited a small crowd of spectators as he visited a professional training college during a trip to take the country’s pulse as it emerged from the pandemic and ahead of the 2022 presidential election.
Macron reaches out to Tarel who was standing behind a security border, Tarel then shouts ‘Down with Macronia’ (‘A Bas La Macronie’) and slaps Macron on the left side of his face.
He could also be heard shouting ‘Montjoie Saint Denis’, the battle cry of the army when France was still a monarchy.
“It’s a slogan of a patriot,” he told the court.
The unemployed 28-year-old told police investigators that he was close to the protest movement against the government “yellow vest” that shook Macron’s presidency.
Knowledge of Tarel described a man who liked temporary role-playing and was not a problem maker. The prosecutor said he was not a member of any political or militant group.
Tarel was arrested along with a second man from his hometown of Saint-Vallier.
Local prosecutor Alex Perrin found police in the second man’s home.
The second man is not facing charges related to the beating, but will be prosecuted in 2022 for illegal possession of weapons.