February 20, 2019
PARIS (Reuters) – A French senate committee on Wednesday recommended President Emmanuel Macron’s former security aide, Alexandre Benalla, be prosecuted for perjury during a seven-month investigation into his violent conduct on the sidelines of a protest.
Benalla was caught on video last year beating a May Day protester while wearing a police armband. Macron and his senior aides faced widespread criticism for being slow to come clean on the facts, prompting allegations of a cover up.
In presenting their report on Benalla’s actions, the senators touched on “major dysfunction” inside the president’s office and said they believed there was evidence that Macron’s security had been compromised.
“What happened on May Day now appears to be the tip of the iceberg,” Philippe Bas, a senator from the opposition centre-right Les Republicains party and head of the investigative committee, told reporters.
It is now up to the Senate’s president to decide whether to follow through on the recommendations of the committee and file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office.
Lying to parliament under oath is punishable by up to five years in prison and a 75,000 euro fine in France.
Benalla, a former security adviser, was eventually sacked. Although there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Macron, the French leader’s defiant reaction to the scandal precipitated a drop in his popularity ratings.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough)