A French court on June 10 sentenced a man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron in the face to four months in prison.
A court in the southeast city of Valence convicted 28-year-old Damien Tariel on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority after slapping Macron’s left cheek last June 8 when the president approached a public crowd kept behind metal traffic barriers in the town of Tain-l’Hermitage.
The court also handed Tariel an additional 14-month suspended sentence and banned him from ever holding public office and from owning weapons for five years.
Tariel told the court that he and his friends had earlier considered throwing an egg or cream tart, but they dropped the idea. He insisted that he did not plan the slap.
“When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,” Tariel reportedly told the court.
“It was an impulsive reaction… I was surprised myself by the violence,” Tariel further said.
However, the court described the slap as a “deliberate act of violence.”
Tariel also told the court that Macron represented “the decline of our country.”
Tariel described himself as a extreme-right “patriot” and a supporter of the yellow vests movement that staged anti-Macron protests during his early years of presidency.
“We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is,” Macron told French broadcaster BFM TV in an interview.
But Macron also said that “we must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect” and that “nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, never.”
The charge of violence against a person invested with public authority can result in up to three years in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($55,000).