French court sentences two men who attacked Brigitte Macron’s relative to jail

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A French court on Monday sentenced two men to jail after convicting them on charges of beating up the great-nephew of French first lady Brigitte Macron last month outside her family’s chocolate shop.

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The court in the northern city of Amiens sentenced one of the accused to 12 months in prison and the second to 15 months for the attack on Jean-Baptiste Trogneux. A third defendant was acquitted.

The attack on Trogneux was widely condemned by French politicians, including President Emmanuel Macron who called it “unacceptable,” while pointing the finger at his opponents, whose “verbal violence” he suggested had encouraged the assault.

It came during soaring tensions in France over his government’s pension reform, which the president signed into law without a parliamentary vote.

>> Read more : A dog day afternoon in French politics as Macron uses ‘nuclear option’ to raise retirement age

The attack on Trogneux in Amiens on May 15 came on the sidelines of an unsanctioned demonstration against the government’s pension reform.

The three suspects, aged 20, 22 and 34, were originally to be tried in a fast-track process two days after the attack, but their lawyers asked for more time to prepare a defence.

Brigitte Macron‘s family has run the Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the centre of her home city of Amiens for six generations.

Her great-nephew was returning to his apartment above the store when he was recognised by the protesters, who left him with several broken ribs, a head injury and a hand wound, according to his father.

According to his lawyer Franck Delahousse, he tried to defend the shop window which had been previously targeted during a demonstration. The shop has already been under police protection for several years.

Among the defendants, who already have criminal records for violence and assault, the youngest, Florian Careel, is illiterate, while the oldest, Yoan Leroy is under legal guardianship.

Prosecutors had asked that Yoan Leroy be given three and a half years in jail, Careel two and a half years, and the third defendant one and a half years.

Careel was sentenced to 12 months behind bars, with another year suspended. Leroy was given the toughest punishment with 15 months in prison, and another 15 months suspended.

Marc Blondet, the lawyer of the third defendant said his client could barely read or write. The third accused was acquitted on the grounds of being given benefit of doubt.

“These are young people who have been on a chaotic journey, and have special or psychological needs,” he said.

During this hearing, only Careel, who already has convictions for rape and sexual assault, admitted giving “a slap” to the victim to defend “friends”.

The other two admitted to having put trash cans in front of the shop but denied striking any blows.

Four other people arrested in this case were released after questioning. A 16-year-old girl, who has also been charged, will go on trial at a later date at a juvenile court.

Both Brigitte Macron, 70, and Emmanuel Macron, 45, hail from Amiens, the town where they met while she was his drama teacher at a private school. She was married and had three children but subsequently divorced from her first husband.


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