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French minister 'informed Macron's office of bodyguard case'
July 23 2018 01:13 PM
France
France's interior minister Gerard Collomb gestures as he arrives to appear before the Law Commission of the lower house of parliament, in Paris on Monday.

Reuters/Paris

* Gerard Collomb faces grilling by lawmakers over case
* Believed Macron office was dealing appropriately with matter
* Case sparked political storm, Macron silent on affair


France's interior minister said on Monday he informed the presidency straight away about a video showing a top bodyguard to President Emmanuel Macron beating a protester in comments that appeared to shift blame from himself over the scandal.
The case has sparked a political storm and bolstered critics who say Macron is a lofty president out of touch with ordinary people. That criticism amounts to the sharpest Macron has faced since he came to power 14 months ago.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who is one of Macron's closest allies in government, faced a grilling from lawmakers over the video on Monday and said he took no further action after he showed it to the presidency the day after viewing it in May.
The bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, was placed under investigation on Sunday.
Le Monde newspaper released a video last week showing Benalla at the May 1 protests in Paris wearing a riot helmet and police tags while off duty.
In the footage, he can be seen dragging a woman away from a protest and later beating a male demonstrator. On Friday, French media released a second video which showed Benalla also manhandling the woman.
Collomb said he had been shown the video on May 2, the day after the violence, and had raised the issue with Macron's office the same day, and was told by his services that the bodyguard would be punished.
"I considered that the facts that were flagged were being dealt with at the appropriate level, so I did not get involved further on this issue," Collomb told lawmakers.
Collomb, who said he did not know Benalla was part of Macron's team, said he spoke to the president on May 1, but at that time was not aware of the video.
Macron fired Benalla, the head of his personal security detail, on Friday but faced criticism for failing to act sooner. Benalla had initially been suspended for 15 days before being allowed to return to work.
The French leader has not publicly commented on the case since it broke last Wednesday. 



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