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French investigators raid home of French President Macron's bodyguard

23 July 2018

Benalla, who used to ski and cycle with Mr Macron, was initially suspended from the Elysee Palace staff for just fifteen days, but his alleged crimes were otherwise hushed up.

Alexandre Benalla, 26, was sacked Friday after footage was released of him hitting the man at least twice as riot police looked on while breaking up a May Day protest in Paris.

France's Le Monde newspaper first made the video public on Wednesday.

A video released last week shows Benalla wearing a riot helmet and police uniform while attacking protesters during street demonstrations on May 1.

Why didn't the police intervene and why wasn't Benalla immediately arrested and prosecuted?

The man in the helmet can be seen grabbing the young protester around the neck, hitting him on the head and apparently stamping on his stomach when he falls to the ground.

Vincent Crase, who worked for Mr Macron during his election campaign a year ago, faced similar charges.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - World Cup - The France team return from the World Cup in Russia - Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France - July 16, 2018.

The president has not officially commented on the case but a source close to the Elysee palace told Reuters that Mr Macron views the actions of Benalla as "unacceptable" and "shocking".

The wedding was planned to take place on Saturday, July 21, in the town hall of the Paris suburb Issy-les-Moulineaux, followed by a reception at a restaurant. However, the president's office has been heavily criticized since it revealed last week that it knew about the assault before last week.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will be questioned by the legislative power next week regarding the way government disciplined President Emmanuel Macron's top bodyguard Alexandre Benalla. Macron took office past year amid a pledge to restore integrity and transparency to the presidency.

Macron's political adversaries have seized the opportunity. An uproar over Benalla's initial punishment - a two-week suspension and a change in responsibilities - forced top French officials to address the issue this week.

Suspicion also has surfaced over what appeared to be inconsistent answers from Macron's office.

"If Macron doesn't explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair", far-right leader Marine Le Pen posted on Twitter.

Several opposition lawmakers, from different parties, have demanded that the matter be addressed, but the government has, so far, remained silent on the incident. Les Republicans party leader Laurent Wauquiez said the government was "trying to hide a matter of state".

But lawmakers have also questioned why Benalla was seen accompanying Macron during a July 14 national holiday.

French investigators raid home of French President Macron's bodyguard