Damien Tarel, the man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron during a walkabout on Tuesday, told the court Thursday that his action was not done with intent.

He said while he considered doing something notable like throwing an egg or cream tart, slapping Mr 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 during 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 reportedly 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 Mr Tarel should be sentenced to 18 months, 14 of which will be suspended.

His four months in jail term will start immediately, but the rest will only be enforced if he commits another offence, the BBC reported.

Although friends described Mr Tarel as “apolitical,” the court heard that Mr Tarel subscribed to far-right politics as well as medieval French history.

Mr 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.

Mr Tarel was arrested outside a hotel school in south-east France alongside another accomplice, a man suspected of filming the assault on Mr 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, according to the BBC.

Mr Tarel had slapped President Macron as he shouted “Montjoie and Saint-Denis! Down with Macronism,” a medieval battle-cry.

Mr Macron was attacked on camera 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 be 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.


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