French president to fire aide caught beating protesters in May

French president to fire aide caught beating protesters in May

A security officer for French President Emmanuel Macron was taken into police custody on Friday and will be dismissed from his job after he was filmed hitting and stamping on a man at the edge of a Paris demonstration while dressed as a police officer.

He is facing charges of violence by a public official, impersonating a police officer and complicity in unauthorised use of surveillance footage, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

"New facts that could constitute misdemeanour by Alexandre Benalla were brought to the president's attention", an official at the Elysee Palace told Reuters. "As a result. the presidency has chose to start Alexandre Benalla's dismissal procedure", the official added.

The presidential Elysee Palace said Benalla had been authorised to follow police operations as an observer on his day off.

The uproar over Benalla's punishment - a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities - forced top French officials to address the issue Thursday.

Richard Ferrand, a senior MP from Macron's party and a top figure in the campaign team, said: "It was not a close aide, it's someone who was responsible for security of the president during the election campaign and then joined the Élysée".

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.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystia Freeland during the Gender Equality Advisory Council working breakfast on the second day of the G7 Summit on June 9, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada.

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"This sanction was to punish unacceptable behaviour and it was a final warning before being sacked", presidential spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit told reporters.

"Clearly, he went beyond this ... he was immediately summoned by the president's chief of staff and given a 15-day suspension".

However, he maintained his office at the presidential palace.

"Without Le Monde's revelations, this would never have come to light, under the good old principle of "not seen, not caught", it wrote.

Labor unions hold demonstrations every year on May Day in France, which often lead to police involvement.

"The very core of the state has been tainted".

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed in parliament Thursday that Benalla had "no right to intervene" at the gathering of leftwing student protestors on the Rue Mouffetard, a picturesque Left Bank street loved by tourists. After hours of debate in the lower house on Thursday, lawmakers agreed to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the case.

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