Damien Tarel, the man who slapped French President, Emmanuel Macron, during a walkabout on Tuesday, has told the court that his action was not done with intent.
Speaking during his arraingnment on Thursday, Tarel said while he considered doing something notable like throwing an egg or cream tart, slapping Macron was an act of impulse.
He claimed that although he belonged to the anti-establishment gilets jaunes (yellow-vests) movement, which staged anti-Macron protests in the early years of his presidency, he “acted instinctively.”
“When I saw his friendly, lying look, which sought me out as a voter, I was filled with disgust,” he told the court.
But prosecutors said that it was a “deliberate act of violence” and they called for 18 months in prison for assaulting a public official.
The three judges said Tarel should be sentenced to 18 months, 14 of which will be suspended.
His four months jail term will start immediately, but the rest will only be enforced if he commits another offence.
Although friends described Tarel as “apolitical,” the court heard that he subscribed to far-right politics as well as medieval French history.
Tarel, 28, described himself on his Instagram page as an European martial arts enthusiast with an avatar of himself dressed in costumes from the middle ages and carrying a long sword.
Tarel was arrested outside a hotel school in South East France alongside another accomplice, a man suspected of filming the assault on Macron.
Both men’s homes were searched after the attack in Tain-l’Hermitage.
Investigators reportedly found weapons and a copy of Hitler’s anti-Semitic text Mein Kampf at the home of the second man.
Tarel had slapped Macron as he shouted “Montjoie and Saint-Denis! Down with Macronism,” a medieval battle-cry.
Macron was attacked during a walkabout in Tain-l’Hermitage which his office said was to feel the pulse of the country.
The president had dismissed the attack as isolated, but stressed that “ultra-violent people” should not be allowed to hijack public debate.
“There have been moments of very high tension and violence in our country which I’ve had to experience as president, during the gilets jaunes crisis. But society is in a different place today,” he said.