Macron’s ex bodyguard given three-year sentence for assault

Alexandre Benalla was found guilty of assault
Alexandre Benalla was found guilty of assault. Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP
President Emmanuel Macron's former bodyguard received a three-year sentence on Friday for assaulting two young demonstrators during an anti-capitalist protest in 2018, an incident that caused deep embarrassment for the president.

Alexandre Benalla will however not see the inside of a prison after the court suspended two of the three years and ordered him to wear an electronic tag for one year – in France jail sentences of less than a year are almost always served in the community.

In addition to the assault, which occurred at the 2018 May Day demo in Paris, he was also convicted of faking documents and illegally carrying a firearm.

Macron, who had made integrity in office a cornerstone of his 2017 election campaign, fired Benalla after a video emerged showing him striking a young man and grabbing a young woman by the neck at a May Day protest in Paris.   

The former bouncer, now aged 30, was wearing a police helmet, even though he had only been given leave to attend the protest as an observer.

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The presidency was accused of a cover-up for failing to report Benalla to the police until French daily Le Monde revealed the existence of the video two months after the incident.

“Benallagate” ballooned into the first major test for Macron’s presidency.    

Benalla denied the charges at his trial, saying he had acted “by reflex” to help officers arrest unruly protesters.

Benalla started working as a bodyguard for Macron in 2016 and was promoted to a senior security role after Macron’s May 2017 victory, becoming a trusted confidant and right-hand man seen at Macron’s side in countless photos.

After the scandal broke, Benalla also admitted carrying a handgun during outings with Macron, even though he was only authorised to have it within Macron’s party headquarters, where he was nicknamed “Rambo”.

Investigators found that he continued to use diplomatic passports for trips to Africa and Israel, where he was trying to build up a consulting business.

He was also found guilty of using faked documents to obtain one of the passports.

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