Three far-right activists who planned to assassinate French President Emmanuel Macron have been convicted. The so-called “Barjols” had planned to assassinate the president with a knife at a ceremony honouring World War One veterans that he was scheduled to attend in November of 2018.
Their attorneys argued that they were aimless extremists without a strategy. Prosecutors, however, claim the group planned to violently topple the government. The jury found all three defendants guilty of plotting a terrorist attack.
The longest sentence given was 4 years in prison with 1 year suspended to 66-year-old Jean-Pierre Bouyer, which was still significantly less than the maximum possible sentence of 10 years. Similarly, two others received sentence reductions that would put them in jail for less time. A fourth man was found in possession of a weapon and given a six-month suspended sentence.
Everyone was picked up in the eastern Moselle. Bouyer’s home was searched and firearms and a military-style knife were discovered. In addition to those two, nine others in the group were also exonerated. The court was informed of racist comments made online about migrants, civil war, and Mr. Macron.
A woman who is a mother of three children boasted that she once led a force of 500 Russian soldiers in an attack on the presidential palace. The group was suspected of also plotting attacks on mosques and migrants.
One defendant, a 55-year-old woman, said in court, “I was so furious, so angry that I might have said that” when asked if she had ever considered kidnapping and burning Muslims. While some of their beliefs may seem “eccentric,” the “threat was real,” as stated by the chief prosecutor of the case.
Legal representatives for the defendants, however, claimed that their clients were rural outcasts who supported the Yellow Vest movement against the government. Some “hatred” was expressed, a lawyer admitted, but he attributed it to “social distress.” In response to jihadist attacks in France, such as those at Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan in Paris in 2015, the group came together in 2017.