The Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the centre of Amiens was already under police protection
The Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the centre of Amiens was already under police protection AFP

Three men went on trial in France on Monday facing up to three and a half years in jail on charges of beating up the great-nephew of French first lady Brigitte Macron last month outside her family's chocolate shop.

The attack on Jean-Baptiste Trogneux was 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.

It came during soaring tensions in France over his government's pension reform, which the president signed into law without a parliamentary vote.

The attack on Trogneux in the northern town of Amiens on May 15 came on the sidelines of an unsanctioned demonstration against the government's pension reform.

The three suspects, aged 20, 22 and 34, were originally to be tried in a fast-track process two days after the attack at the court in Amiens, but their lawyers asked for more time to prepare a defence.

Brigitte Macron's family has run the Jean Trogneux chocolate shop in the centre of her home city of Amiens for six generations.

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

According to his lawyer Franck Delahousse, he tried to defend the shop window which had been previously targeted during demonstration. The shop has already been under police protection for several years.

Among the defendants, who already have criminal records for violence and assault, the youngest, Florian C., is illiterate, while the oldest, Yoan L., is under legal guardianship.

Marc Blondet, the lawyer of the third defendant, Adrien F., said his client could barely read or write.

"These are young people who have been on a chaotic journey, and have special or psychological needs," he said.

Prosecutors asked that Yoan L. be given three and a half years in jail, Florian C. two and a half years, and Adrien F. one and a half years.

During this hearing, only Florian C., who already has convictions for rape and sexual assault, admitted giving "a slap" to the victim to defend "friends".

The other two, already convicted of violence in the past, admitted to having put trash cans in front of the shop but denied striking any blows.

Four other people arrested in this case were released after questioning. A 16-year-old girl, who has also been charged, will go on trial at a later date at a juvenile court.

Both Brigitte Macron, 70, and Emmanuel Macron, 45, hail from Amiens, the town where they met while she was his drama teacher at a private school. She was married and had three children but subsequently divorced from her first husband.