Alexandre Benalla: Macron's former bodyguard goes on trial for violence against protester

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
Alexandre Benalla appeared before the French Senate Laws Commission in 2019 prior to his hearing.
Alexandre Benalla appeared before the French Senate Laws Commission in 2019 prior to his hearing.   -  Copyright  Holroyd, Matthew/

A former security aide to French President Emmanuel Macron has gone on trial in Paris on multiple charges.

Alexandre Benalla is accused of voluntary violence, illegally wearing a police badge and carrying a weapon.

Three years ago, he was filmed hitting a man and violently dragging a woman during a May Day demonstration in 2018.

If found guilty, Benalla could face up to seven years in prison and €100,000 in fines.

His actions, and the French government's handling of the incident, led to a major political crisis for the French presidency.

Questions were raised over Benalla's precise role at the presidential Elysee Palace, and why he stopped observing the 2018 protests to take up the supposed role of a police officer.

Hundreds of violent demonstrators had invaded the traditional May 1 march by unions when Benalla moved into action at Paris' Jardin des Plantes.

"It was war," Benalla told investigators, insisting that as an observer he had no intention of acting violently but intervened because it was his duty as a "citizen" to arrest "police aggressors".

Benalla was initially given a 15-day suspension from his job before returning and heading security for the 2018 FIFA World Cup victory parade down the Champs-Elysees Avenue on Bastille Day.

He was placed under investigation later in July and, amid public outcry, fired from his job at the presidential palace.

Investigations by French media have also uncovered that Benalla held two diplomatic passports to travel to Africa and Israel after being dismissed from his ill-defined job at the presidential palace.

The initial probe was launched after Benalla was also pictured with a gun at his hip while serving as a security aide for Macron during his presidential campaign in 2017.

The former chargé de mission is being tried alongside three other people, including a former employee of Macron's En Marche" party and two police officers.

The officers are sharing video surveillance images of Benalla beating the demonstrator and violating professional secrets.

Meanwhile, two of the people who filed the case against Benalla were sentenced in February 2019 for throwing projectiles at the police.