Three men to be tried for assaulting relative of France’s first lady

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Three men are to be tried for allegedly beating up the great-nephew of French first lady Brigitte Macron outside her family’s chocolate shop in northern France, with a 16-year-old also facing prosecution.

The three adults were presented in court on Wednesday in the city of Amiens on assault charges, but their lawyers requested a delay to proceedings until June 5, an AFP reporter witnessed.

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The teenage suspect is set to go before a special children’s judge over the attack late on Monday by anti-government protesters on Jean-Baptiste Trogneux.

The incident has been 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.

Increasingly fierce clashes during protests against Macron and attacks on the offices of local and national elected figures have sparked fresh debate about the political climate in France.

The country has been rocked by its biggest demonstrations in decades since the start of the year over Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62.

Hard-left MP Francois Ruffin, one of the harshest critics of the president, said on Wednesday that Macron was partly to blame for the violence directed at politicians.

“It’s obvious that Emmanuel Macron has a responsibility because we have a social, political and democratic crisis and his only response is via the police,” Ruffin told the France 2 television channel.

The three adult suspects, aged 20-34, have been detained awaiting trial.

They are known to the police for previous assaults and violence, with the youngest living with a mental disability and the eldest living under the control of a legal guardian.

Four other people arrested after the attack have been released by police.

Brigitte Macron’s family have run the Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the center of her home city of Amiens for six generations.

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

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