Macron’s ex-aide convicted of assault and posing as a police officer

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PARIS – A former security aide to French President Emmanuel Macron was found guilty on Friday of assaulting protesters and posing as a police officer during a union protest in 2018, in a case that prompted the first major administration scandal and led to strong criticism of Mr. Macron’s style of government.

The former aide, Alexandre Benalla, 30, was sentenced by a Paris court to three years in prison, one of which was under house arrest with electronic surveillance, and the other two suspended, meaning he would not Will not purge them unless he commits a new crime. within a given period and that a court orders that the sentence be served in its entirety.

Mr Benalla was also fined 500 euros, or about $ 578, and banned from working as a civil servant for five years.

A lawyer for Mr. Benalla told news channel BFMTV that he was appealing the conviction.

Mr. Benalla had been in charge of security during Mr. Macron’s presidential campaign in 2017 and became his assistant chief of staff after the election. He was part of the entourage of the French leader, accompanying him on official visits, bicycle trips, tennis matches and other outings.

But in July 2018, Mr. Benalla was identified by the newspaper Le Monde in a video that showed him wearing a police helmet as he grabbed, dragged and beat a man during an unruly union protest in Paris on May 1 of the same year.

The report and the presidency’s clumsy response sparked a storm of criticism that fueled months of media coverage and parliamentary inquiries, seriously testing Mr Macron for the first time since his election. It was quickly revealed that the Presidency had known about the beatings for months but had disciplined Mr Benalla with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Following other controversies involving Mr Macron – including accusations of influence peddling against a close associate, dusting off an expensive new table service, and his public reprimand of a student – the case gave rise to his political opponents ammunition to portray the French president as disconnected and his administration as opaque.

During the trial, held in September, Mr. Benalla admitted an error in judgment but denied the assault.

Mr. Benalla joined the security forces as an observer on the day of the demonstration and claimed he tried to help officers apprehend protesters who threw objects at police. But the court ruled that he unlawfully and violently interfered with police work and assaulted a total of four protesters.

Mr Benalla, who now works as a private consultant, was also found guilty of unlawful use of diplomatic passports he kept after being dismissed from the presidency, false documents to obtain another type of official laissez-passer and illegal possession of a firearm in 2017.

Vincent Crase, 48, a friend of Mr. Benalla and a former reservist gendarme who worked for Mr. Macron’s party – and who faced charges similar to Mr. Benalla’s for his actions in May 2018 – was also sentenced , just like two police officers who had sent Mr. Benalla video footage of the incident taken from street surveillance cameras.


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