Macron under fire after aide filmed beating on protester

2018-07-20 04:55:44 GMT2018-07-20 12:55:44(Beijing Time) Sina English

French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire on Thursday after his office suspended one of his aides who was caught on camera striking a May Day protester, but did not inform law enforcement authorities.

Critics said the incident reinforced perceptions of a leader out of touch with ordinary people in France, coming on the heels of controversies over government spending on official crockery, a swimming pool built at a presidential retreat, and cutting remarks by Macron about the costs of welfare.

A video from a May Day rally released by Le Monde newspaper showed a man wearing a police helmet and identification tag dragging a woman away and then striking a demonstrator. He was later recognized as a member of the French presidency staff.

"The staff member, Alexandre Benalla, had been given permission to witness the demonstrations only as an observer," presidential spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit said in a hastily arranged video statement.

"Clearly, he went beyond this... He was immediately summoned by the president's chief of staff and given a 15-day suspension. This came as punishment for unacceptable behavior."

The Paris prosecutor, which was unaware of the matter before Thursday, launched a preliminary investigation against Benalla on suspicion of violence, usurping the function of a police officer and using signs reserved for public authorities.

(Agencies)

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