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Paris prosecutor drops perjury probe into Macron officials

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Paris prosecutor drops perjury probe into Macron officials
FILE PHOTO: Alexandre Benalla, French President Emmanuel Macron's former senior security officer, leaves after a hearing by senators from France's upper house at the Senate in Paris, France, January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau   -   Copyright  CHARLES PLATIAU(Reuters)
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PARIS (Reuters) – The Paris prosecutor on Thursday dropped an investigation into alleged perjury by three current and former officials in the president’s office in connection with the “Benalla affair”, a saga which engulfed Emmanuel Macron’s office last summer.

Former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla sparked the biggest political scandal of Macron’s presidency when he was caught on tape beating a protester on May Day last year. Accusations of a cover-up erupted when the story emerged only two months later, prompting parliamentary and judicial investigations.

The prosecutor said Alexis Kohler, Macron’s top official at the Elysee palace, ex-security boss Lionel Lavergne, and chief of staff Patrick Strzoda did not commit perjury in their testimonies to the Senate’s investigative committee.

However, the prosecutor said it remained impossible at this stage to say whether Benalla and his associate Vincent Crase had lied to senators. Investigations concerning them remain ongoing.

Macron’s office said it “gladly” took note of the decision to clear the three officials.

“The presidency wishes to take this opportunity to renew its trust to the members of staff who have been incriminated and calls for the truth to come to light in this affair,” an official said.

(Reporting by Marine Pennetier, Emmanuel Jarry and Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough)

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