Fuster, 32, who was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for grabbing the French leader’s jacket during a meet-and-greet session on June 30th and almost pulling him to the ground, gave interviews with several media outlets saying he “sincerely regrets” his actions and that he “is not a violent person.”
“I first tried to shake his hand … then I wanted to tap him on the shoulder,” Fuster said in an interview with website 20minutes.fr. “But the second I touched his suit, the guards behind me grabbed me and threw me back.”
He said he grabbed hold of Sarkozy’s jacket to keep from falling “like anyone would who is toppling over” and the French leader was dragged down with him.
Sarkozy had come to the south-western French town of Brax to attend a meeting of mayors and welcome back two French hostages who had been released after 18 months in Taliban captivity. During the incident, he would have likely fallen to the ground had he not been able to catch himself on a metal barricade.
The president was quickly surrounded by stunned bodyguards who also immediately immobilized Fuster, a caretaker and receptionist at a local conservatory in the nearby town of Agen. He is currently on suspension from his job.
The president himself did not press charges although Fuster could have received a three-year sentence and had to pay tens of thousands in fines for assaulting a public figure. It was the first time Sarkozy had been physically assaulted at close quarters.
Despite the media circus and the job suspension, Fuster said there has been a silver lining.
“I’ve stopped smoking cannabis and I go out now with friends instead of staying home by myself,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to become a poster-child for anti-Sarkozy forces.
Still, he did have a message for the president.
“I would tell him to listen to the people who elected him,” he told newspaper Le Parisien. “I didn’t vote for him myself, but I have to think about all those workers who believed his promises and who are disappointed today.”