French MPs grill minister in beating row

French MPs grill minister in beating row
Macron and Benalla pictured together on Bastille Day this month.
London, Jul 23 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/24/2018 12:35:08 AM IST
France’s interior minister has been grilled by MPs over his handling of a policing scandal in which a presidential security aide was filmed assaulting a demonstrator on 1 May, BBC reported.
Gérard Collomb said he learned of the video on 2 May and did not report it to prosecutors because it was a matter for President Emmanuel Macron’s staff.
Mr Macron fired the aide, Alexandre Benalla, on Friday, but MPs want to know why he did not act sooner.
Mr Benalla, 26, faces several charges.
He is accused of assault with an accomplice, interfering in police work, impersonating a police officer and illegally receiving surveillance footage. He was Mr Macron’s top bodyguard during last year’s election campaign.
Vincent Crase, a security agent for Mr Macron’s La République en Marche (Republic on the Move) party, has also been charged.
Three police officers were charged and questioned on Saturday for allegedly passing surveillance footage to Mr Benalla to try to prove his innocence.
Mr Collomb told MPs: “I condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions of Mr Benalla.”
He said his staff had informed Mr Macron’s administration about the incident and “it was up to them to respond”. “I did not pursue this matter any further.”
Besides the MPs’ inquiry, the police disciplinary body, IGPN, is also investigating the assault.
The French presidency has been accused of trying to cover up the assault and failing to act swiftly against Mr Benalla.
Mr Macron is already under scrutiny over what some see as an elitist presidential style: there have been controversies over his expensive new dinner service and plans for a private swimming pool.
Public outrage has been stoked by additional footage that appears to show several police officers watching the Benalla incident without intervening.
The video shows Mr Benalla dragging away a woman and then beating a man during May Day protests in Paris.

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