Macron’s ex-security aide given 3-year sentence over protester assaults

Alexandre Benalla, former security adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, has been handed a three-year jail term for assaulting May Day protesters three years ago. However, he reportedly won’t spend even a night behind bars.

Benalla was charged with assault and unauthorized interference with police action. He was also found guilty on separate charges of faking documents and illegally carrying a firearm. The court suspended two of the three years of his sentence, but ordered him to serve 12 months at home while wearing an electronic tag, meaning the former presidential bodyguard will not, in fact, be sent to prison.

The ex-security aide did not comment on his sentence, but previously denied the charges related to his actions during the 2018 May Day protests in Paris, arguing that he had acted “by reflex” and had only sought to aid the police.

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Alexandre Benalla (C) arrives for trial in Paris. ©THOMAS COEX / AFP
Macron's disgraced security aide stands before Paris court for assaulting protesters in 2018

The incident that landed Benalla in the dock also became a serious early challenge in the Macron presidency. Benalla had been filmed tackling two protesters – a man and a woman – while wearing a police helmet. He was not authorized to do, so as he was attending the protest only as an observer.

The incident was not made public until France’s Le Monde newspaper revealed the existence of the damning video. Macron’s government subsequently survived two non-confidence votes in parliament over the matter, but a senate investigation into the incident reported that there had been “major flaws” in the government’s handling of the affair.

Amid a public outcry over the assault, Benalla was fired from his job at the presidential office. The former bodyguard alleged in a book published in 2019 that he was a “scapegoat for the people in power.”

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