Macron's security aide detained, was filmed beating activist

22 July, 2018, 22:15 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Emmanuel Macron's security chief'posed as riot police to beat student protester

France's President Macron is to fire a security adviser who hit and stamped on a May Day protester, the Elysee Palace has said.

Benalla was suspended hours after the video was shared by local news outlets.

"Someone was found to have unacceptable behaviour and there was a sanction", Social Cohesion Minister Julien Denormandie said on France Inter yesterday, without naming Benalla. He was later recognised as a member of the French presidency staff. In another video, he can be seen dragging a young woman towards a wall and trying to force her to sit down, before returning to the young man. Police officers nearby do not appear to make any attempt to intervene.

Following release of the footage this week by French newspaper Le Monde, the Paris prosecutor launched an investigation against Mr Benalla on suspicion of violence, usurping the function of a police officer and using signs reserved for public authorities.

Macron ignored journalists' questions about the incident on Thursday, Al Jazeera reported.

"It is obvious that Macron has to speak up about this", Laurent Wauquiez, president of conservative opposition party Les Republicains told Europe 1 radio.

He couldn't say why police didn't stop Benalla.

The man is heard begging him to stop.

Paris prosecutors announced their probe into Alexandre Benalla on Thursday amid a public outcry over the incident on May 1.

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"He is suspected of receiving material from the police he was not authorised to have", the Elysee said.

"If a police officer did these kinds of things, he would have been suspended and would already have gone before a judge", David Le Bar, head of the SCPN union of police commissioners, told French daily Le Figaro.

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.

After a 15-day suspension in May, Benalla was brought back onto the president's security team.

The president's spokesman said Thursday that Benalla had been authorized to follow police operations "as an observer" on May Day, his day off, and was suspended for two weeks in May and given a desk job as punishment.

Alexandre Benalla (wearing a grey hood) received little official punishment for the incident, leading to accusations of a cover up.

Condemning the "unacceptable behaviour", Mr Macron's spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said Mr Benalla was also removed from his responsibilities of organizing security for presidential trips, though he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.

Just days after the May 1 demonstrations, which were marred this year by anarchists who clashed with police and attacked shops, Macron tweeted that "everything will be done so that those responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions". Benalla then left the scene at Place de la Contrescarpe, where about 100 people had gathered.



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