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French lawmakers demand probe into Macron aides over bodyguard scandal

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French lawmakers demand probe into Macron aides over bodyguard scandal
Photo: AFP
13:05 CET+01:00
A French Senate commission on Wednesday demanded an investigation of three close aides to President Emmanuel Macron after finding "major flaws" in the government's handling of a scandal involving an ex-bodyguard.

The senators accused the three aides, including Macron's chief of staff, of contradictions in their testimony over the scandal triggered by a video showing Alexandre Benalla roughing up protesters.

The so-called Benalla affair caused major embarrassment for Macron, and a wave of accusations from opponents that his presidency tried to cover it up.

Releasing the results of an inquiry on Wednesday, the commission said it found "major flaws" in the state's handling of the case, which it said had affected the president's security and "national interests".

The committee named Macron's chief of staff Patrick Strzoda, presidency secretary Alexis Kohler and security chief Lionel Lavergne, who may have "withheld significant truth" during their testimony.

(Image from the video showing Benalla arresting protesters.)

"Several aides to the presidency of the republic... revealed a number of omissions, inconsistencies and contradictions," it said.   

Benalla was placed in provisional detention on Tuesday after the former staffer allegedly broke the conditions of his bail.

He faces criminal charges after it emerged in July that he was the man in a police helmet filmed roughing up protesters during a May Day demonstration in Paris which he was attending as an observer.

Benalla is also under investigation over his continued use of diplomatic passports after he was fired last summer.

A former bouncer, Benalla began working as a bodyguard for Macron during his election campaign in 2016 before being promoted to a senior security role 
in the presidential palace following Macron's election in May 2017.

 
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