World Bulletin / News Desk
French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to curb what has become the most damaging scandal of his presidency, on Friday fired a top security aide who has been taken into custody after videos emerged showing him strike a young man during a demonstration in Paris in May.
A source close to the inquiry said that three police officers, including two high-ranking officials, have been suspended on suspicion of providing the footage to Benalla.
He is facing charges of violence by a public official, impersonating a police officer and the illegal use of police insignia, and complicity in unauthorized use of surveillance footage, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
Macron and his government are facing fierce criticism over the affair, with some opposition lawmakers saying Interior Minister Gerard Collomb's job is on the line if he knew about the incident but kept quiet about it.
A source close to the inquiry said Friday that Macron's cabinet chief, Patrick Strzoda, had been questioned by investigators on Thursday.
"The very core of the state has been tainted. Our work must stop immediately and the prime minister must come and explain this," said Christian Jacob of the rightwing Republicans party.
The scandal erupted this week when French daily Le Monde published a video taken by smartphone showing Benalla, wearing a police helmet, manhandling and striking a protester during a May 1 demonstration.
In a second video published by the newspaper late Thursday, Benalla -- who has never been a policeman -- is also seen violently wrestling a young woman to the ground.
It was not clear who informed Benalla's superiors of the incident, but a few days later he was suspended without pay for two weeks and transferred to an administrative role instead of organizing security for Macron's trips.
But the incident was not reported to prosecutors.Last Mod: 20 Temmuz 2018, 16:32