Chirac would-be shooter faces sentencing in Paris

10th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - A trial in Paris of a 27-year-old man who tried to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac at a Bastille Day parade two years ago was to come to an end late Friday, with the prosecution calling for a six- to eight-year prison sentence.

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - A trial in Paris of a 27-year-old man who tried to assassinate French President Jacques Chirac at a Bastille Day parade two years ago was to come to an end late Friday, with the prosecution calling for a six- to eight-year prison sentence.

That request was significantly less than the possible life term Maxime Brunerie could face if he is found guilty of attempted murder.

His defence lawyers have tried to portray Brunerie, a student with links to far-right extremist groups, as a mentally disturbed loner in need of medical care not prison.

On July 14, 2002, Brunerie fired a single shot from a small-bore rifle at Chirac as the president's motorcade made its way down the Champs-Elysees.

He was quickly overpowered by bystanders in the crowd and turned over to police.

Experts said that if it had been on target, the shot could have killed the president, who was about 20 metres (yards) away.

Brunerie told the court Monday, as his trial opened, that he wanted to die in the attempt and go down in history, and denied having any political motivations.

"I wanted to do something historic, something scandalous. I had mucked up my life. I didn't want to muck up my death," he said.

Psychiatrists and psychologists brought in to evaluate Brunerie's state of mind at the time of his assassination bid could be key in influencing the judgement.

Of the seven specialists who testified, only one said he believed Brunerie had mental problems - schizophrenia linked with severe depression - that could exonerate him from a prison sentence.

The others said that, though they diagnosed Brunerie as having his mind "altered" at the time of the attack, he was aware of what he was doing.

The accused was "among those with uncertain and fragile personalities, but he is not mentally ill," one psychiatrist, Doctor Michel Dubec, said Thursday.

Brunerie, who did odd jobs as a chauffeur and nightwatchman, was known to the intelligence services for attending rallies organised by groups such as Radical Unity and the Union Defence Group. He also campaigned for a breakaway faction of the far-right National Front party.

According to the prosecution, Brunerie bought the .22 calibre rifle a week before the attack and was given training in the Burgundian countryside by a former foreign legionnaire. The man testified to police that his pupil showed little aptitude.

On the eve of July 14 Brunerie left a note on the Internet site of a British far-right group that read: "Look at the television this Sunday. I will be the star. Maxime of Paris."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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