Sunday 20 April 2014

Police arrest man who tried to ram through French presidential palace gate

France's President Francois Hollande addresses a news conference during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels December 20, 2013.  REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule                  (BELGIUM - Tags: POLITICS)
French President Francois Hollande's office is not commenting on the incident at the Elysee Palace. REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

A 67-year-old driver tried to ram through a gate of the French presidential palace today.

He was arrested and treated for light injuries.

The reason for the man's unusual actions is unclear.

French president Francois Hollande's office is not commenting on the incident at the Elysee Palace, except to say that the president was in his office at the time and is working as usual.

The driver was at moderate speed when he approached the palace, and the car made contact with the gilded gates before it was stopped by presidential guards, according to a judicial official.

She described the suspect as a 67-year-old Italian citizen, but could not confirm French press reports that he is a theatre director angry over cuts to cultural subsidies.

He was taken to Paris' Georges Pompidou Hospital for "very light injuries" sustained in the incident, the official said. No one else was hurt.

The man faces possible charges of putting others' lives in danger, degrading public property, and voluntary armed violence - because he tried to use his car as a weapon, the official said.

No damage was visible on the gate, which faces the famed Champs-Elysees avenue. It is not the entrance usually used for presidential visitors.

A tow truck was seen carrying away a car past the Elysee soon afterwards.

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