Crisis hits Macron presidency with charges against aide


Associated Press

PARIS

A French judge handed preliminary charges Sunday to one of President Emmanuel Macron’s top security aides after video surfaced that showed him beating a protester at a May Day demonstration.

The initial charges against Alexandre Benalla came the same day French authorities opened a judicial investigation of the assault. The multiple alleged offenses included violence, interfering in the exercise of public office and the unauthorized public display of official insignia.

The video made public by Le Monde newspaper on Wednesday has sparked the first major political crisis for Macron since he took office last year. Lawmakers and the president’s political opponents have questioned why Benalla was not fired and referred for prosecution when presidential officials learned about the beating months ago.

The recording shows Benalla, who is not a police officer, wearing a police helmet at the May 1 protest. Surrounded by riot police, he brutally dragged a woman from the crowd and then repeatedly beat a young male protester on the ground.

The man was heard begging Benalla to stop. The officers did not intervene.

Four others were also charged Sunday night: Vincent Crase, who worked for Macron’s party and was with Benalla on the day of the protest, and three police officers who were suspected of illegally passing footage from the event to Benalla.

Crase was handed preliminary charges of violence and prohibited possession of a weapon.

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