Chirac's would-be assassin stands trial in Paris

5th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - Maxime Brunerie, a 27 year-old student with links to the far-right who tried to assassinate President Jacques Chirac at a Bastille Day parade two years ago, told a court in Paris Monday that he wanted to die in the attempt and go down in history.

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - Maxime Brunerie, a 27 year-old student with links to the far-right who tried to assassinate President Jacques Chirac at a Bastille Day parade two years ago, told a court in Paris Monday that he wanted to die in the attempt and go down in history.

"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 on the first day of his trial for attempted murder.

Brunerie faces a possible life term in prison if he is found guilty at the end of the trial on Friday. His defence is expected to argue that he suffers from psychiatric problems and needs medical care not prison.

On July 14, 2002, Brunerie was among the crowd for national day celebrations when he removed a small-bore rifle from a guitar-case and fired a single shot at Chirac's motorcade on the Champs-Elysees. He claims he then intended to kill himself but was overpowered by bystanders.

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

After conflicting psychiatric reports, experts finally concluded that he is fit to stand trial - though his confused mental state on the day of the shooting may be taken into account as an extenuating factor.

Wearing a grey pullover and metal spectacles, Brunerie answered questions from the presiding judge about his personality, describing himself as an unhappy person "who had the feeling that other people were not interested in me."

Asked about his interest in fringe groups of the extreme right, he denied it was from political motives. "I wanted to be part of what society regards as the most morally contemptible. When I was with them I didn't think of my existential problems," he said.

Brunerie, who did odd jobs as a chauffeur and night watchman, 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 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."

With clear evidence that the attack was premeditated, debate during the week was likely to concentrate on Brunerie's mental condition. He has spent the last two years in the psychiatric wing of La Sante hospital in Paris, where he is on medication.

A psychiatric report in March 2003 decided that Brunerie was schizophrenic and not responsible for his acts. However this was overruled by a subsequent expert committee which ruled that though his mind was "altered" at the time of the attack, he was aware of what he was doing.

Brunerie's lawyer Pierre Andrieu said he would ask the court to acknowledge Brunerie's psychiatric problems and order a non-custodial sentence.

"Mr Brunerie suffers from mental illness. Since he was a boy he has been in a state of constant suffering. All he wants is to be judged so he can turn the page," Andrieu said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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