Eight protesters go on trial in Paris on Wednesday for stealing official portraits of French President Emmanuel Macron from public buildings as part of a protest over climate change.
The activists, aged 23 to 36, have been charged with theft after taking down the pictures from local government offices around the capital in February.
The acts of civil disobedience were part of a movement called “Take Down Macron” which was intended to highlight alleged inaction by the French government over global warming.
The group behind it, Non-Violent Action COP21 (ANV-COP21), claims that 128 portraits have been stolen across France, while 57 people face “group theft” charges which carry a maximum five-year jail term.
Several hundred protesters held up the portraits during a protest in southwestern France at the end of August near Biarritz where Macron was hosting a G7 summit of world leaders.
“Solidarity with the people who took down the portraits of our presidential monarch,” left-wing leader Jean-Luc Melenchon wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
The head of campaign group Oxfam in France, Cecile Duflot, also backed the protesters, writing: “It’s a symbolic action and not a group theft.”
All public schools and government offices display the president’s portrait, with Macron’s showing him perched on the edge of his desk with two mobile phones and the memoirs of French resistance hero and post-war president Charles de Gaulle behind him.
It is not the first time the picture of the 41-year-old leader has been targeted.
In October 2017, mayors in the central Creuse region turned his picture round so that Macron faced the wall in protest at cuts to local government budgets and job losses.
The first trial over the thefts of presidential portraits took place at the end of May in the eastern town of Bourg-en-Bresse.
An environmental campaigner was fined 250 euros (275 dollars) and five others received suspended fines.
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