French prosecutors investigate a senior presidential aide who attacked demonstrators in Paris while wearing a police officer
Alexandre Benalla, an assistant to the chief of staff of President Emmanuel Macron, was filmed as he married a woman and a man during May Day targeted protests
He was caught on video by a student activist and left the scene after being challenged with the camera.
He was identified from the video of the French newspaper Le Monde.
The incident took place in a popular tourist destination on the Place de la Contrescarpe in the fifth district of Paris, where around 100 people gathered on 1 May.
The original video, released by 21-year-old Taha Bouhafs on social media, features a man in a police helmet who does not join the CRS riot police uniform after clashes.
He grabs a woman by the neck (19659007) Shortly thereafter, he returns to the scene and attacks another demonstrator, who was briefly carried by the police before he was left alone on the ground
Helm, who has since been identified as Mr. Benalla, grabs the young demonstrator around his neck, beats his head, and seems to stamp on his stomach as he falls to the ground.
The riot police does not appear to intervene
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A presidential spokesman said Mr. Benalla had obtained permission to participate as observer on his day off in trouble. Further photographs show him with a police armband.
Who is Alexandre Benalla?
Above all, Benalla's job is to provide security for the president's obligations.
Prior to joining the presidential office, he held the position of Chief of Security during Mr. Macron's election campaign in 2017.
In this role he was a constant companion of the future president, and archive photos show the two men at many high-profile public events together.
But Richard Ferrand, an older member of Macron's party, tried to downplay the importance of Mr. Benalla's role.
"This is not a close advisor, this is someone who was particularly responsible during the presidential campaign, and then he joined the Elysée staff," he told French television.
President Macron, asking if he trusted his bodyguard on Wednesday night, pointed out one of his followers. "My bodyguard is over there," he said.
A former private security firm, he had collaborated with other French politicians in the past – including leading Social Democrat Martine Aubry and Macron's predecessor at the Elysée, François Hollande.  In 2012 he was hired as a driver for Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg.
Mr Montebourg told Le Monde that Mr Benalla was fired for abuse of office because he had caused a car accident in the presence of the Minister and wanted to leave the scene.
What was the reaction?
Elysee Palace spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit Mr Benalla had been suspended from 4 to 19 May for two weeks without pay, a punishment that was described as the most severe punishment ever given to a head of mission in the presidential office.
He was also dismissed from his role (19659007) However, French television reported that Benalla had caused two major events this month, including the World Cup soccer championship on the Champs-Elysées
. The Paris prosecutor announced Thursday that they will initiate a preliminary investigation into the alleged attack.
Possible charges include violence by an officer pretending to be a police officer and the illegal use of police insignia. 19659007] On Thursday, activist Taha Bouhafs told French radio that the demonstrators were "quietly settled" in the square before recording his video.
"The man on the ground was harmless and asked Benalla to stop," Bouhafs said. "There is no explanation for this outbreak of violence."
On the day of the protests, Macron turned to Twitter and swore that those responsible for violence were "identified and held accountable for their actions." The tweet has again received attention in the face of allegations against his employee.
Opposition MPs have called for a far stronger crackdown on the President's Office
the Social Democrat complained Olivier Faure on double standards on the grounds that there is one form of justice for normal and another for the presidency.
Alexis Corbière from the far-away France's Unbowed Party called for the dismissal of Mr. Benallon and said that the charges should fall if the allegations are confirmed.