PARIS: One of President Emmanuel Macron’s top security officers was at the centre of an escalating scandal for the French leader on Thursday after being filmed assaulting a protester during a May Day demonstration.
Le Monde newspaper published a video showing Alexandre Benalla striking and then stamping on a young man while wearing a police helmet and visor during the protest in central Paris.
Benalla, who is not a policeman and previously worked as a private bodyguard, had been given permission to “observe police operations” in Paris during a day off on the May 1 public holiday, Macron’s office said.
The presidential palace added that Benalla was suspended without pay for two weeks after the incident and had been transferred to an administrative role instead of organising security for Macron’s trips.
“This sanction was to punish unacceptable behaviour and it was a final warning before being sacked,” presidential spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit told reporters.
Prosecutors in Paris opened a probe on Thursday into possible charges of violence by a public official, of pretending to be a policeman and the illegal use of police insignia.
Imitating a policeman can lead to a prison term of up to a year and a fine of 15,000 euros.