PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron‘s former bodyguard goes on trial on Monday for assaulting two individuals throughout a 2018 protest whereas posing as a police officer, in an incident that precipitated deep embarrassment for France’s newly elected chief.
Macron, who had made integrity in workplace a cornerstone of his marketing campaign, was pressured to fireside Alexandre Benalla, now 30, after a video emerged exhibiting him placing a younger man and grabbing a younger lady by the neck at a Might Day protest in 2018.
The previous bouncer was sporting a police helmet, though he had solely been given depart to accompany safety forces as an observer.
However the presidency held off on reporting the assault to the authorities, and it got here to mild solely after French every day Le Monde revealed the existence of the video a number of months later.
Officers denied allegations of a cover-up however “Benallagate” ballooned into the primary main take a look at for Macron, who swept to the presidency a 12 months earlier than with a promise of restoring an “exemplary republic”.
His authorities survived two no-confidence votes in parliament, however a Senate investigative panel that questioned key Macron aides discovered “main flaws” within the administration’s dealing with of the affair.
Benalla was charged with assault in addition to unauthorised interference in police issues and use of police insignia.
He claims he acted “by reflex” to assist officers arrest unruly protesters.
Additionally on trial is Benalla’s pal Vincent Crase, the previous safety head of Macron’s centrist get together, who was additionally filmed roughing up protesters on the demo.
Two law enforcement officials, accused of illegally offering Benalla with surveillance footage in a bid to assert his actions had been justified, may also be within the dock.
Benalla’s lawyer declined to remark forward of the trial.
“Apprehending somebody who’s committing a criminal offense isn’t punishable by regulation,” Crase’s lawyer Christian Saint-Palais informed AFP, saying his shopper reacted “spontaneously”.
Benalla began working as a bodyguard for Macron in 2016 throughout what many thought of his darkish horse bid for the presidency, profitable over the politician and his spouse Brigitte along with his boundless power.
He was promoted to a senior safety position after Macron’s Might 2017 victory, turning into a trusted confidant and right-hand man seen at Macron’s facet in numerous photographs.
“He obtained seen as somebody who might repair all the sensible issues very effectively,” a former senior marketing campaign official mentioned.
“He considered the whole lot, he was our Swiss Army knife.”
He additionally secured perks normally reserved for prime administration officers, together with an residence close to the Elysee Palace and entry to the National Assembly and its personal health club and library.
After the scandal broke, Benalla additionally admitted carrying a handgun throughout outings with Macron, though he was solely authorised to have it inside Macron’s get together headquarters, the place he was nicknamed “Rambo”.
It stays unclear, nonetheless, how the younger man from a working-class neighbourhood of Evreux, a sleepy city in Normandy, obtained maintain of the police helmet he’s seen sporting through the Might Day assault.
Benalla additionally precipitated complications for Macron after his dismissal.
Investigators discovered that he continued to make use of diplomatic passports for journeys to Africa and Israel, the place he was making an attempt to construct up a consulting enterprise.
He’s suspected of utilizing faked paperwork to acquire one of many passports, a cost he has denied.
Benalla may also face a cost of illegally carrying a gun, based mostly on an image of him at a restaurant that seems to indicate him with a Glock.
He has mentioned it was a water gun.

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