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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Kim Willsher in Paris

Three men accused of attacking Brigitte Macron relative appear in court

The Trogneux chocolate shop in Amiens
The Trogneux chocolate shop in Amiens. Photograph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

Three men have appeared in court in France accused of attacking Brigitte Macron’s great-nephew outside her family’s chocolate shop.

The accused were among eight people arrested after Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, 30, was beaten up while reportedly trying to protect the windows of the store in Amiens in the Somme last month.

The alleged assault happened during what was described as an “impromptu protest” in the town shortly after Macron’s husband, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, had given an interview on primetime television.

An earlier hearing, postponed to give the defence more time to prepare, heard a group had gathered and placed rubbish bins in front of the business, a chocolate shop called Jean Trogneux founded in 1872 by Brigitte Macron’s great-grandfather. When Trogneux, who lives above the store, asked them to leave, it is alleged at least one person in the group hit him, leaving him with injuries requiring four days off work.

A neighbour living opposite the shop said he was watching television when he was alerted by the sound of a fight. “When I arrived, they were in the process of knocking him to the ground,” he told the court. “There were three people beating someone, they were in the process of massacring him. I identified [the victim] as my neighbour opposite.”

The three men, aged 20, 22 and 35, are charged with “deliberate group violence”, which they deny. A fourth accused, a minor, will appear in the children’s court at a later date.

The public prosecutor Jean-Philippe Vicentini said it was a “shameful affair”.

Franck Delahousse, representing Trogneux, who was not in court, said his client was “trying to protect the [shop] windows that had already been targeted several times”. He rejected claims by the accused that Trogneux had lashed out first.

The defendants, all from Amiens, said the violence was not premeditated and accused Trogneux of pushing them first. The court was told all three were previously known to the police and their family and social situations were “chaotic”.

The court heard two of the accused admitted vandalising two glass doors at Amiens train station in a separate incident in April as part of protests against Emmanuel Macron’s law raising the official pension age to 64.

After the alleged attack in May, which the president described as “intolerable and unspeakable”, Brigitte Macron denounced those who took part as “cowardly”.

Protesters have attacked the chocolate shop on a number of occasions since Macron was elected in 2017, insulting staff, spitting at the window and threatening to burn the premises.

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