Macron’s bodyguard faces charges over assaults

Macron's bodyguard faces charges over assaults

Alexandre Benalla, 26, was taken into police custody for questioning on Friday, sparking a political storm for the president whose approval ratings fell to a record low of 39% last week.

The prosecutor’s office said on Sunday that Benalla would now be investigated over group violence, interference in public service and the illegal wearing of a police badge along with two other felonies.

Mr Macron sacked Benalla, long a fixture at the president’s side, on Friday but has faced criticism for failing to act sooner.

Le Monde newspaper released a video last week showing Benalla at the 1 May protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.

In the footage, he can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.

Benalla had initially been suspended for 15 days and allowed to return to work.

The president has not officially commented on the case but a source close to the Elysee palace told Reuters that Mr Macron views the actions of Benalla as unacceptable and shocking.

Critics of Mr Macron have called the president’s delayed response a characteristic sign that he is out of touch and lofty.

If Macron doesn’t explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair, far-right leader Marine Le Pen said on Twitter.

Why the devil did he insist on protecting a second-rank employee who should have been kicked out of the Elysee months ago? right-wing daily Le Figaro asked in an editorial.

But ruling Republic on the Move party spokesman Gabriel Attal defended the president’s silence.

If Mr Macron speaks now we’d have indignant commentators everywhere saying his comments could influence the inquiry, he said.

According to media reports, Benalla had been granted perks by the presidency such as an apartment in an affluent Paris area and a chauffeur-driven car.

He had also been given the highest level of security clearance to the lower house of parliament.

A parliamentary inquiry has been launched into the incident, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary.

Interior minister Gerard Collomb is to be questioned by members of the national assembly on Monday and by the senate on Tuesday.

News Source SkyNews

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