PARIS – A video featuring a security chief of French President Emmanuel Macron who struck a student demonstrator in May that has until now been kept secret draws a fierce public backlash against what he saw as a mild punishment – a two-week suspension and a change of responsibilities.
The growing turmoil prompted Macron's spokesman to tackle the problem on Thursday, more than two and a half months after the event. Bruno Roger-Petit condemned the "unacceptable behavior" and said that Alexandre Benalla was also released from his responsibility to organize security for presidential travel – although he maintains his office at the Elysee Palace.
Authorities have initiated a preliminary investigation that could lead to it In a lawsuit against Benalla, a judicial officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing case.
Roger-Petit said the penalty imposed on Benalla was the "heaviest" ever to be given to a Security Director at the Elysee Presidential Palace and served as the "final warning of release".
The May 1 video in Paris, unveiled on Wednesday evening by the newspaper Le Monde, shows Benalla wearing a police-shielded helmet surrounded by the riot police brutally dragging a woman off a demonstration and then repeating a boy Man hit the ground. The man is heard as he begs him to stop. The police, who had taken the man out of the crowd before Benalla, did not intervene. Benalla then left the scene.
Opposition politicians were shocked: some denounced a climate of impunity at the head of the French political hierarchy and called on Macron to personally address the issue.
The leader of the conservative main party, the Republicans, Laurent Wauquiez asked on Radio Europa 1 whether the government was trying to cover up the affair.
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