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    In this picture dated Feb. 24, 2017 French president Emmanuel Macron, center, visits the 55th International Agriculture Fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France, as Elysee senior security officer Alexandre Benalla, right, looks on

    French Senate Commission Calls for Prosecution of Benalla for 'False Testimony'

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    A high-profile case broke out in July 2018 after a video emerged capturing Alexandre Benalla in riot police gear tackling a young demonstrator to the ground and punching him repeatedly before fleeing.

    The senatorial commission investigating the case of Alexandre Benalla has asked the Senate Bureau to take legal action against President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide for "false testimony".

    According to a letter addressed to Senate President Gerard Larcher and seen by AFP, the commission believes that Benalla "assured the function of close protection of the head of state", despite his claims that he had not acted as the president's bodyguard.

    The senators suggested there had been "major dysfunction" inside Macron's office and said they believed that Macron's security had been compromised.    

    The commission also reportedly asked for testimonials from three senior officials at the Elysée Palace, suspecting them of "omissions, inconsistencies" and "contradictions". The three officials are Macron's chief of staff, Patrick Strzoda, the Elysée Palace's secretary general Alexis Kohler, and Gen. Lionel Lavergne, who heads the security unit in charge of the French president's safety.

    French senators suspect them of having "retained a significant part of the truth from the commission", in particular "within the scope of Alexandre Benalla's security mission". The commission asked the Senate Bureau to refer the matter to the Public Prosecutor's Office to conduct a further investigation and possibly take legal action.

    Last month, the Paris prosecutor's office confirmed that Alexandre Benalla had been placed in custody as part of the investigation into his alleged use of diplomatic passports.

    Benalla was fired last July after he was caught on camera beating a protester at a May Day rally. He has been charged with multiple offences, including violent acts, interfering in the work of public services, wearing an official insignia without authorisation, concealing video materials and breaching professional secrecy. The former security aide, in turn, said that he considered his actions during the demonstration legitimate, claiming that he tried to help police officers deal with offenders.

    The foreign minister has requested the former aide return his passports twice, on 26 July and 10 September. Benalla claimed that he returned his diplomatic passports shortly after the sacking, but was reported in December to have later used a diplomatic passport to travel to Chad and Israel.

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    Tags:
    Perjury, investigation, Alexandre Benalla, Emmanuel Macron, France
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