Macron sacks security aide Alexandre Benalla for assaulting protester

Clay Curtis
July 20, 2018

The video of the May 1 event shows Mr Benalla dragging off a woman then beating a young man on the ground.

Police are questioning Mr Benalla, an assistant to Mr Macron's chief of staff, over footage filmed by a student activist showing a woman and a man being beaten during the demonstrations on 1 May.

Alexandre Benalla was initially given just a 15-day suspension for the incident, which occurred when he attended May Day protests in a riot helmet and police identification tags.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told reporters: "If we accept that anybody can be a policeman alongside the police then we no longer have the rule of law".

Roger-Petit said the punishment was the "most serious" ever given to a security director at the presidential Elysee Palace and served as a last warning before dismissal.

A video published this week shows Alexandre Benalla manhandling and striking a demonstrator while wearing a police helmet, even though he is not an officer.

The presidential palace added that Benalla had been suspended for two weeks after the incident came to light and had been transferred out of his job, which was organising security for Macron's trips.

But Macron has remained silent about a man he knows well.

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Benalla was the head of security during Macron's successful campaign a year ago, usually found several steps behind the then-candidate, and transferred to the presidential staff in May 2017.

French President Emmanuel Macron (C), flanked by security officer Alexandre Benalla (2ndR), visits the 55th International Agriculture Fair (Salon de l'Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, Feb. 24, 2018.

"This video is shocking".

Benalla is believed to be facing an array of criminal charges including "violence committed in a group by a person with a public service mission".

Macron, in the Dordogne region to officially launch a new postage stamp, didn't respond to questions about the scandal.

"By not immediately managing a disciplinary problem, Emmanuel Macron now faces a political crisis", wrote the right-wing Le Figaro daily - which usually makes no secret of its admiration for the president.

"The staff member, Alexandre Benalla, had been given permission to witness the demonstrations only as an observer", Mr Roger-Petit said.

It was unclear why the young man under attack, who wasn't detained, was singled out by police before Benalla intervened.

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