“I slapped him because of France’s decline” – Damien Tarel, man who slapped French President Macron

A 28-year-old man on trial for slapping French President Emmanuel Macron testified on Thursday June 10, that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France’s “decline.”

Damien Tarel faces possible jail time and a fine if found guilty of assaulting a public official at the special emergency trial in the southeastern city of Valence. 

Tarel was immediately arrested after the incident which occurred as the French leader was greeting a crowd in the region on Tuesday.

The man acknowledged hitting the president with a “rather violent” slap. “When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,” he told the court. “It was an impulsive reaction… I was surprised myself by the violence.”

The charge of violence against a person invested with public authority is punishable by up to 3 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros ($54,000).

Macron wouldn’t comment Thursday on the trial, but insisted that “nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, never.”

“It’s not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time,” he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM-TV. “We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is.”