French president’s aide questioned by police for allegedly beating protester
Chesnot/Getty Images(PARIS) — Police questioned an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday after he was apparently caught on video impersonating a police officer while hitting and stomping a Paris demonstrator earlier this year.
The video, published Wednesday night by French newspaper Le Monde, was taken May 1 during a demonstration and seems to show Alexandre Benalla wearing a police armband and a helmet, but otherwise in civilian clothes.
Benalla, a member of the Elysee Palace security staff, appears to be dragging a woman and then hitting a young man, as real French police officers watch on and do not intervene.
He had initially been suspended for two weeks without pay, but he will now be fired, the Elysee Palace announced on Friday.
Macron’s political opponents had initially criticized the president for what they considered an insufficient punishment and argued that the Elysee Palace tried to cover up the event.
“There should not be a double standard in how you treat an aide to the president and any ordinary citizen,” the leader of the Socialist Party, Olivier Faure, said on French TV.
The French public prosecutor has opened a preliminary inquiry into potential charges against Benalla.
He could be charged for violence by a public official, pretending to be a member of the police and illegally using police insignia.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, speaking to Congress members on Thursday, said the incident was “particularly shocking.”
“The case is now in the hands of justice,” he added, referring to the preliminary investigation launched by prosecutors.
Macron has not yet officially reacted to the scandal.
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