Macron's security aide charged over assaults caught on video

Elias Hubbard
July 23, 2018

The most damaging scandal of Emmanuel Macron's presidency deepened on Saturday with his interior minister due to face a grilling in parliament over his response to a top security aide of Macron caught on video beating up a young man at a Paris protest in May.

Alexandre Benalla, 26, was charged along with three senior police officers and an employee of Mr Macron's La République en Marche party after footage was released showing demonstrators being assaulted at a May Day student protest in Paris.

In the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office a year ago, Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase were charged with "gang violence", Paris prosecutors said.

Surrounded by riot police, he brutally dragged a woman from the crowd and then repeatedly beat a young male protester on the ground. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.

On Friday Mr Benalla was sacked as an Élysée adviser.

Mr Macron has, meanwhile, remained silent on the scandal, leaving it to government aides to issue statements. Macron's office has said Benalla only was supposed to be accompanying officers as an observer. Macron's office says he is to be fired after "new elements" emerged in the case, namely that he is suspected of unlawfully receiving police surveillance footage in a bid to prove his innocence.

The affair is particularly embarrassing for Macron since he won the presidency with pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation's highest office.

Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.

Macron's political adversaries have seized the opportunity.

Benalla faces possible charges of violence by a public official, illegal use of surveillance video and impersonating a police officer.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left-wing party Unsubmissive France (La France Insoumise), on Thursday called for a no-confidence motion against the government unless it provides an explanation for the incident involving Benalla.

The recording shows Benalla, who is not a police officer, wearing a police helmet at the May 1 protest.

The video was posted on social media in May, but the case became a political scandal after Le Monde newspaper revealed that the attacker was Mr Benalla.

French media reported that Benalla, 26, had been granted perks by the presidency such as an apartment in a high-class Paris area and a chauffeur-driven vehicle.

Collomb will be questioned by members of the lower house on Monday.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will be questioned by the legislative power next week regarding the way government disciplined President Emmanuel Macron's top bodyguard Alexandre Benalla.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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