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Alexandre Benalla: Macron's ex-bodyguard given jail term for assaulting protesters

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By Euronews  with AFP
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Former President Macron's security aide Alexandre Benalla appears before the French Senate Laws Commission prior to his hearing, in Paris, January 2019.
Former President Macron's security aide Alexandre Benalla appears before the French Senate Laws Commission prior to his hearing, in Paris, January 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File

Emmanuel Macron's former bodyguard has been handed a three-year jail term for assaulting protesters at a march in Paris.

Alexandre Benalla, 30, sparked uproar when a video emerged of him hitting a man and dragging a woman during a 2018 May Day protest.

The footage showed him wearing a police helmet and badge.

On Friday, a court in Paris handed him a jail term for violence at the protest and for usurping the role of a police officer.

His actions led to a major political crisis for the French presidency as it emerged that the Elysée had suspended Benalla for two weeks after the video emerged but that he continued to work for Macron afterwards.

Benalla even assisted in the 2018 FIFA World Cup victory parade, riding in the bus with the football team down the Champs-Elysées on Bastille Day.

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

Macron was initially silent on the scandal before saying: "the only person responsible for this case is me and me alone."

His approval rating plummeted in the aftermath of the crisis.

A French Senate committee recommended in February 2019 that Benalla be prosecuted, considering that the security of the president had been "compromised" and that there were a number of "errors" in the handling of the affair.

Benalla was also found guilty on Friday of fraudulently using his diplomatic passport after his dismissal, fabricating a fake document to obtain a service passport and illegally carrying a weapon in 2017.