Monday 22 October 2018

Calls for Macron to fire aide filmed 'beating' protester

Emmanuel Macron, centre, is joined by senior security officer Alexandre Benalla, left, on a bike ride in Le Touquet last summer. Photo: Getty Images
Emmanuel Macron, centre, is joined by senior security officer Alexandre Benalla, left, on a bike ride in Le Touquet last summer. Photo: Getty Images

Henry Samuel

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing calls to fire a senior aide at the Elysée after prosecutors launched an investigation over a film of him beating up a protester.

The film shows Alexandre Benalla - in charge of Mr Macron's security during his electoral campaign last year and now assistant to the president's chief of staff - in a police helmet and armband but no uniform joining CRS riot police at a protest on May 1.

Alexandre Benalla is shown dragging away a demonstrator. Photo: Getty Images
Alexandre Benalla is shown dragging away a demonstrator. Photo: Getty Images

The incident took place in a popular tourist spot at Place de la Contrescarpe in the fifth district of Paris. In the film shot by a student activist, he grabs a woman by the neck, charging her down the street. He then returns to the scene, drags a young man along the floor, grabs him by the neck and hits him. Riot police present do not intervene to stop him.

The Paris prosecutor yesterday launched a preliminary probe into "violence by a person with a public service mission, usurping a function and usurping signs reserved for public authority".

Patrick Strzoda, Mr Macron's principal private secretary, confirmed that Mr Benalla was the man in the clip.

Mr Strzoda said he had authorised Mr Benalla to accompany police during the May Day demonstration as an "observer". "When I saw the videos, I summoned him the same day and asked if it was him," which he confirmed, he said.

The ex-security chief was then suspended for two weeks, demoted and threatened with dismissal if he did anything else untoward. He is still working at the Elysée and played a part in organising a huge garden party thrown for the victorious French football squad.

Elysée spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said he had been handed "the most serious sanction ever pronounced against a project manager working at the Elysée" and that he had been "relieved of his duties in terms of the organisation and security of the president's movements".

A second man filmed at the protest called Vincent Crase, a gendarme reservist occasionally called to work for presidential security, was also filmed "overstepping the mark", confirmed Mr Roger-Petit.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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