Macron's aide put on compulsory leave for hitting protester

Macron's aide put on compulsory leave for hitting protester

President Macron was under pressure today to sack a senior security aide after he appeared in a video beating a student protester while wearing police riot gear.

Benalla was suspended hours after the video was shared by local news outlets. He said he has demanded that a police unit which investigates suspected criminal behavior by officers explain the rules governing observers and verify whether they were respected.

He was later recognised as a member of the French presidential security staff.

One witness who saw the incident told the Guardian: "What I watched was not normal, it was extraordinary, it was not legal and it was not techniques used by the police".

Prosecutors in Paris opened a probe on Thursday into possible charges of violence by a public official, of pretending to be a policeman and the illegal use of police insignia.

Mr Macron declined to answer questions from reporters on the subject.

A short time later, the man identified as Benalla is seen grabbing a young man around the neck, repeatedly hitting him and even stomping on his stomach.

"Clearly, he went beyond this ... he was immediately summoned by the President's chief of staff and given a 15-day suspension". Picture taken May 1, 2018.

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Opposition parties have condemned the presidency's handling of the matter, arguing the punishment was too lenient and the incident should have been referred to judicial authorities.

Later the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Francois de Rugy, announced a parliamentary inquiry into the case.

"This video is shocking".

But Macron has remained silent about a man he knows well.

Some politicians in Mr Macron's centrist party also called for Mr Benalla to be dismissed.

Labor unions hold demonstrations every year on May 1 in France and clashes with police are not uncommon. His punishment - a two-week suspension - has brought criticism down on Macron.

He was later seen attempting to do the same with a male protester who resisted - and the presidential aide was seen striking his head and stamping on the man as he fell to the ground and pleaded with him to stop.

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