They wanted to stab French President Emmanuel Macron – and are now in the dock. Since Tuesday, eleven men and two women have had to answer to the public prosecutor in Paris for these allegations. According to the indictment, a leading member of the group planned an attack on Macron in 2018 during a commemoration of the end of the First World War. The group also hatched plans to attack mosques and migrants, but never took action.
According to the French daily "Le Figaro", the chairman of the criminal court attested to a common motivation for the accused: the fear of "a civil war", a "wave of migration blamed on the President of the Republic" and an alleged "imbalance of rights" to the detriment of the French.
The group was founded on Facebook in 2017. Its founder is regarded as a supporter of a conspiracy theory widespread in right-wing extremist circles, according to which Muslim migrants in France are gradually becoming the majority. At their meetings they organized paramilitary exercises.
On October 31, 2018, an anti-terrorism investigation was launched on the basis of intelligence that ultra-right activist Jean-Pierre Bouyer planned to assassinate President Emmanuel Macron during ceremonies marking the centenary of the November 11 armistice in eastern France, reports "Le Figaro". . On November 6, 2018, the first members of the group were arrested. Weapons and ammunition were seized during the arrest.
The defense emphasizes that the period was marked by the conflict of the yellow vests and a general seditious mood. According to the British "Guardian", a defense lawyer said the charges were "based on the fiction that an act of violence would take place".
A member of the group had "differing views of the government" and made comments that were "sometimes extreme," a defense attorney said, according to the Guardian. "But does that mean that they were planning to take action and make an attempt on the life of the head of state? The answer is no."
The trial is expected to last until February 3.
Sources: AFP, "Lefigaro.fr", "The Guardian".