It is a song that has become essential in the demonstrations. “We are here, we are here. And even if Macron does not want to, we are here. A refrain hummed in a low voice by this sexagenarian in a shirt when the door to the courtroom opens. “We are here, we are here”, repeats the one who presents himself as a “yellow vest” from the start. And who is not alone in “being there”. A good thirty people came, like him, to support their “three friends” who will be judged this Monday, June 5 by the criminal court of Amiens.
Violence by proxy
Visible supports in the courtroom. All convinced that the case of the day would not have taken such a scale if the victim had not been “Brigitte’s nephew”. The one that the whole of France discovered on May 15: Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, grand-nephew of Emmanuel Macron’s wife, who, despite himself, became the symbolic victim of social and political violence by proxy. The target of anger which, according to some, was aimed through him at the head of state.
In the preamble, President Samuel Grévin recalls the facts: on May 15, around 10 p.m., Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, manager of the family chocolate factory, was attacked by demonstrators against the pension reform, who came to place trash cans in front of his window. In the box, three defendants. On May 17, they asked for the trial to be postponed and were remanded in custody. Today, they will not see Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, who preferred not to come to the hearing, leaving his lawyer, Me Franck Delahousse, to represent him. “A certificate from his psychiatrist indicates that he has sleep disorders, anxiety manifestations. Jean-Baptiste Trogneux always finds it difficult to leave his home. Today, he is not asking for damages. The only thing he wants is to live peacefully, ”explains the lawyer
The first to come to the bar is Hervé, 56 years old. The providential neighbor. It was he who, that evening, heard a noise in the street. “I went to the floor and I saw, below, three people who were hitting someone. They were in the process of massacring him, ”says Hervé who came down and managed to stop the attack on Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, then lying in a ball on the ground.
A “herd follower”
Then the president turns to the box. The first to get up is called Florian, he is 19 years old. An almost mute young man who seems to have trouble understanding the questions of the court. At one point, his lawyer, Marc Blondet puts a text in his hands. And the words, there too, do not come. We then understand that the lawyer thus wished to show the court that his client cannot read. Then it is the others who read for him. President Grévin recalls that on April 14, after another demonstration, he broke windows at Amiens station. “In police custody, you said: other people did it so I did it too. That’s right ? asks the prosecutor Jean-Pierre Vicentini. “Yes”, replies Florian. “Well, it’s worrying…”, says the magistrate.
A “herd follower” who always seems ready to do as his friends do. To break windows or more depending on the circumstances. In police custody, Florian admitted to having slapped Jean-Baptiste Trogneux because the latter had jostled one of his fellow protesters. And this is the main line of defense of the defendants: according to them, they did nothing other than place trash cans in front of the chocolate factory. Jean-Baptiste Trogneux would then have descended and would have pushed one of the protagonists to the ground, thus triggering hostilities. The protester, who would have found himself on the ground, is Yoan, 34 years old. The second defendant of the box.
He claims to have wanted to retaliate by hitting the chocolatier. “But I missed it and I didn’t hit it,” assures Yoan who, of the three, is the worst on board. Five witnesses claimed to have seen him beating. “They lie,” he replies. And it is with a strange smile on his lips that Yoan answers the questions. Why did you put garbage cans in front of this business? “Because Trogneux chocolates are too expensive”. And the knife with a 7 cm blade that he was carrying on the evening of the incident? “It’s for cutting bread and cheese.” Are you a violent person? “When I can, yeah…”.
“I didn’t hit anyone”
No smile, however, from the third defendant, but tears. Adrien, 22, was at the demo that evening with a “press” armband. It was as an “independent journalist” that he was present to film videos then put on TikTok or Facebook. He can’t read either. “I didn’t hit anyone”, repeats in tears the boy whom Jean-Baptiste Trogneux has identified as one of his attackers.
A sad correctional hearing as dozens take place every day in France. No political flight, no advocacy against pension reform. Just defendants out of words with, in the background, a broad social and emotional misery, punctuated by violence. A rapist father, an alcoholic mother for Florian, tossed from home to home during his childhood. And a conviction for sexual assault on a 15-year-old minor on his criminal record. An aggravated curatorship for Yoan due to serious behavioral problems. In his locker, there are two convictions for violence against a spouse.
But the past of the defendants does not move the prosecutor. “We are responsible for his destiny. “Launches the magistrate, denouncing “cowards who do not assume their responsibilities”. And he hits hard by demanding sentences ranging from 4 years to 2 years in prison, partly suspended. The court, in the end, is a little less severe but pronounces a continued detention of Florian and Yoan. The first is sentenced to two years in prison, one of which is firm. The second at 30 months, 15 of which are closed. As for Adrien, he is no longer crying. Relaxed “for the benefit of the doubt”