Verdict due in assault trial of Macron’s ex-bodyguard Benalla

Verdict due in assault trial of Macron's ex-bodyguard Benalla

A Paris court will today deliver a verdict in the case of Emmanuel Macron”s former bodyguard, who stands accused of violence during a protest.

Prosecutors have requested an 18 month suspended prison sentence — a jail term that typically can be served as probation — for Alexandre Benalla.

The other three defendants in the case — a former employee of the president’s party Vincent Crase as well as two police officers — face suspended prison sentences ranging from two to twelve months.

Benalla caused an uproar in France after a video purported to show him — wearing a police helmet and badge — hitting a man and dragging a woman during a 2018 May Day protest.

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.

The 30-year-old is accused of twelve offences among them violence, interference with the function of a police officer, and carrying a weapon.

Prosecutors said Benalla and Crase had “acted with policemen, like policemen and sometimes instead of policemen”, although their intervention was “not necessary”.

Benalla had been integrated with police as an observer but said he acted when protests turned violent.

Prosecutors requested a one-year suspended prison sentence against Crase, a 48-year-old former reservist gendarme, also prosecuted for illegally carrying a weapon that day.

Benalla is also implicated for having carried a pistol without authorisation in 2017 in Poitiers, as well as for having used, after his dismissal, two diplomatic passports during eleven trips and for producing a false document in order to “obtain a service passport.”

Benalla’s lawyers argue that he and Vincent Crase “helped to arrest” perpetrators, arguing that their actions were “proportionate”.

Two former officials of the Paris police were tried with Benalla and Crase for having transmitted CCTV images to Benalla.

The prosecution requested two and four months suspended imprisonment against them.

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