Macron's security aide detained, was filmed beating activist

Macron's aide put on compulsory leave for hitting protester

The action against Alexandre Benalla was taken after "new facts" emerged in the case, French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Friday.

Benalla was suspended hours after the video was shared by local news outlets.

"This sanction was to punish unacceptable behaviour and it was a final warning before being sacked", said the president's spokesman, Bruni Roger-Petit.

In the video, a man wearing a police helmet and identification tag was shown dragging a woman away and then beating a demonstrator on May 1.

Before he joined the presidential staff he had the role of head of security during Mr Macron's election campaign in 2017. The riot police close by appeared to let Benalla carry out the violence.

Amid the outcry Thursday, the French public prosecutor opened an inquiry into the Benalla case, an investigation that could ultimately lead to charges against him, as well as further embarrassment to the Elysee Palace.

On a trip to southwestern France on Thursday, Macron declined to answer questions from reporters on the subject, saying only in a video posted by a Le Figaro reporter: "I didn't come here to see you".

Several opposition leaders voiced criticism over Benalla's punishment, arguing it was too lenient.

The man is heard begging him to stop, with officers at the scene not intervening.

Benalla, who has previously worked as bodyguard, is not a policeman but had been given permission to "observe police operations" during a day-off for the May 1 public holiday, said presidential palace spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit.

"He is suspected of receiving material from the police he was not authorized to have", the Elysee said.

Interior Minister G-rard Collomb "strongly condemns these actions which, if they are confirmed, constitute a serious breach of ethics and undermine the exemplary image which must, in all circumstances, characterize the action of the national police", the statement said.

Supporters of Macron claimed that the punishment handed down to Benalla - suspension without pay for two weeks and a transfer to an administrative job - was appropriate.

The attempt at damage control follows an outcry by Macron's critics, not least because the 40-year-old former investment banker won the presidency with pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation's highest office.

"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.

"As a result. the presidency has chose to start Alexandre Benalla's dismissal procedure", the official added.

Labour unions hold demonstrations every year on May 1 in France and clashes with police are not uncommon.

Related:

Comments

Latest news

Tiger Woods in contention heading into final day of The Open
Francesco Molinari has been crowned the Champion Golfer of the Year after a sensational final day of The 147th Open at Carnoustie. The last time Woods led or held a share of the lead at the end of a round at a major was in 2012, at the PGA Championship.

Theresa May warned of 'mass resignations' if more ground given to Brussels
The EU thinks a Brexit no-deal scenario would be a bureaucratic, practical and financial nightmare for Europe . May also said: 'I am passionate about that brighter future and the possibilities that are within our grasp.

Singapore personal data hack hits 1.5m
Security measures, including the blocking of dubious connections and changing of passwords, were taken to thwart the hackers. Paul Ducklin, Sophos" senior technologist, said: "The data stolen in this breach is an identity thief's goldmine.

How Arsenal Transfer News Affect Their Odds to Win?
Other players rumored to be destined for Arsenal include; Sokratis Papastathopoulos, from Borussia Dortmund, and Saul Niguez. If they are rumored to buy an elite player, during the transfer window, they play well which increases the odds of winning.

Online Sports Betting Market Growth
Benefits With the market high, sports betting is an activity that receives a high level of support from online betting companies. More betters are opting to forego the long lines at the cashier's counter and the unavailability of their favorite machines.

Other news