Macron's aide and 4 others placed under formal investigation stemming from May Day incident
Posted July 22, 2018 6:49 p.m. EDT
PARIS (CNN) — A former senior aide to the French President Emmanuel Macron has been placed under formal investigation after video surfaced of him beating a May Day protester while wearing police insignia.
Alexandre Benalla, who had been a senior security adviser, faced a magistrate Sunday. A judicial investigation has opened on Benalla and four others; the five suspects are now under judicial supervision, meaning they have been released with conditions.
Video footage from the May 1 protest showed Benalla lifting a protester off the ground by his neck and covering his mouth before striking him over the head with his fist. He had been invited to observe the demonstrations alongside France's riot police for the protests in Paris.
French newspaper Le Monde identified Benella, who has been dismissed, and bodyguard Vincent Crase, who worked for Macron's En Marche! political movement, in the video taken at the protest. Questions have been raised how a senior member of Macron's inner circle could have ended up posing as a police officer and beating up protesters, and why other officers did not stop him.
Benalla is under investigation for alleged gang assault, interference in the exercise of a public office by performing acts reserved for public authorities, illegal use of signs reserved for public authorities, concealment of breach of professional secrecy and concealment of misappropriation of images from a video protection system, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.
A source close to the investigation said that a police search took place this weekend at Benalla's home in a Paris suburb.
Crase is also under investigation for alleged gang assault, interference in the exercise of a public office by performing acts reserved for public authorities and prohibited carrying of a type of weapon.
The three others, who are Paris police officers, have been suspended on suspicion of unauthorized communication of surveillance footage to a third party, the French Ministry of Interior said in a statement Friday. They are under investigation for misappropriation of images from a video protection system and breach of professional secrecy, according to the prosecutor's office.
The five have been released, but some are prohibited from their public service jobs and having certain contacts.
A parliamentary inquiry has also been launched as two public hearings are scheduled Monday at the National Assembly with the French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and Police Prefect Michel Delpuech.