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Medieval martial arts teacher who slapped French leader faces justice

Paris – The 28-year-old man who instantly won infamy by slap French President Emmanuel Macron told investigators he acted “without thinking”. The medieval history and martial arts enthusiast, identified only as Damien T., said he wanted to “express his dissatisfaction” with Macron’s policies.

The prosecutor believed him, saying it was clear there was no premeditation, and that the man acted on the spur of the moment the president walked straight to him as he he was going to greet a crowd waiting in the village of Tain-l ‘Ermitage in the south-eastern region of Drôme. A video of the incident was posted on Twitter.

Macron’s bodyguards immediately pulled the president away and pulled the man to the ground. He and another man were arrested. Damien T. was to be tried Thursday in court for assaulting a person in authority.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a heavy fine, but given what has already been said by the prosecutor – and the fact that another man who took the president from the time Nicolas Sarkozy by the collar in 2011 received a suspended sentence of 6 months. – Damian T. will probably not incur such a severe sanction.

Macron had already been pilloried before the visit to Drôme to meet with restaurateurs, who were finally allowed to reopen after months of COVID-19 containment.

Political opponents accused Macron of using his presidential visit to the region to bolster support for his besieged party in regional elections later this month. But the slap united even her political enemies, drawing criticism from all political walks of life, including her main rival, far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Medieval martial arts teacher who slapped French leader faces justice
French President Emmanuel Macron is slapped in the face by a member of the public during a visit to Tain-L’Hermitage, France, in this still from a video on June 8, 2021.

BFMTV / ReutersTV

There were also reviews in Damien T.’s neighboring hometown of Saint-Vallier.

Residents told reporters they were stunned by the man’s actions. Appreciated, he is known as a bit of a geek, fascinated by medieval knights and sword fights. He locally runs two small nonprofit associations, one teaching medieval martial arts and the other organizing role-playing and video games.

Locals said neither he nor the other man arrested with him – a WWII enthusiast – had any particular political leanings they were aware of. Police raided their homes and the second man will stand trial on weapons charges, which are said to be linked to his enthusiasm for the story.


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