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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Profile: The amateur Jackal
Jacques Chirac taking the parade
The Jackal also struck in Paris on Bastille Day
The man who has reportedly confessed to trying to kill the French president at the Bastille Day parade poses a striking contrast to his fictional alter ego in the Day of the Jackal.

Frederick Forsyth's assassin was a professional hit man, motivated only by money and professional pride.


He used a rifle in a public place, the worst possible thing he could have done

Frederick Forsyth
Maxime Brunerie, by contrast, appears to have been imbued with the ideology of the French far right, telling police, according to one report, that he wanted to "save France".

The 25-year-old had already launched himself on the path of politics, even unsuccessfully standing for election in the year 2001.

Election candidate

He won 1,359 votes at a council election in Paris for the far-right National Republican Movement (MNR) of Bruno Megret, according to French press reports.

Maxime Brunerie
Born in Evry, south of Paris, on 21 May 1977
No known history of psychiatric problems
Described by neighbours as "calm and very discreet"
Mr Megret, who formed the party after breaking with the National Front, has condemned the assassination bid, referring to the former candidate as a "psychiatric case".

Mr Brunerie continued to back the MNR up to the 2002 presidential election, and was actually quoted by Le Monde newspaper at an election rally for Mr Megret on 21 April.

That interview described him as an "accountancy student".

Police say Mr Brunerie, from the town of Courcouronnes in the Paris region, was also a member of an extreme-right student group, GUD, and was known in skinhead circles.

According to police sources, Mr Brunerie, an obsessive internet user, left a message on a site, telling people to watch television on Sunday,

The sources give further details about the message, saying only that it was left on an English-language site.

'Worst possible' planning

The Jackal was a meticulously organised master of disguise who outwitted the French police through a string of killings and nearly succeeded on his final mission despite a massive manhunt.

The film version of the novel lovingly dwells on the ingenious collapsible sniper rifle which the killer, perched in a flat above the Champs Elysee, assembles out of an invalid's crutch.

Policeman arrests Maxime Brunerie at the scene
Witnesses say Brunerie tried to shoot himself at the scene
Maxime Brunerie made his assassination bid in the middle of a crowd of spectators who managed to deflect his first shot, then hold him until the police arrived.

Not even a member of a gun club, he bought his .22 sporting rifle just days before the attack.

"He used a rifle in a public place, the worst possible thing he could have done," the Jackal's author said on Monday.

"A rifle is absolutely visible and would have been seen within seconds. A handgun would have been the preferred weapon of a professional in a crowd."

For Frederick Forsyth, Maxime Brunerie was "obviously an amateur".

See also:

14 Jul 02 | Europe
17 Jun 02 | Europe
16 Jun 02 | Europe
14 Jul 02 | Europe
19 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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