French far-right group on trial for plot to kill Macron
PARIS (Reuters) - Members of a far-right French group have gone on trial over a plot to kill President Emmanuel Macron during a World War One memorial ceremony in 2018, planning terrorist attacks and for advocating the violent overthrow of the government.
The 13 accused, members of the group "Les Barjols", are made up of 11 men and two women, aged between 26 and 66.
Acting on information obtained by wiretap, police in November 2018 arrested a then 62-year old and three accomplices and found a 15 cm ceramic blade in his car close to where Macron was set to give a speech. Firearms and ammunition were later found at his home.
Several other members of the group were arrested in 2019-2020. Their trial, which started on Tuesday, will last until Feb. 3.
Lawyers for the accused, in comments to French newspapers, have played down their clients' intentions and described them as bumbling extremists with no plans for action.
Court documents from prosecutors show that the man arrested with the blade and other members have been charged with possession of illegal arms, planning terrorist acts, planning attacks on members of parliament and on immigrants, as well as the plans to kill Macron.
Some of the accused have also been charged with sharing "ultra rightist ideology advocating the overthrow of the government through the use of violence and weapons" and some were found to have Nazi imagery and bomb-making manuals on their computers.
During the hearing on Wednesday, one of the accused charged with helping to prepare the attack on Macron, said the man arrested with the ceramic knife did not intend to use it.
(Reporting by GV De Clercq; Editing by Alison Williams)