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Macron’s disgraced ex-bodyguard admits ‘mistake’

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This picture taken on May 1, 2018 shows Elysee Chief Security Officer Alexandre Benalla (C) wearing a police visor, next to Vincent Crase (C, left), a security aide for Macron’s Republic on the Move party, as they drag away a demonstrator during May 1 protests in Paris. The most damaging scandal of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency deepened on July 21 as his interior minister faces a grilling over his response to a top security aide caught on video striking a young man at a Paris protest in May. Benalla, 26, was initially suspended without pay but on Friday Macron fired his former security aide, who was taken into custody suspected of unlawfully receiving police surveillance footage in a bid to clear his name. He is to face a magistrate on July 22, 2018, Paris prosecutors said.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Naguib-Michel SIDHOM

French President Emmanuel Macron’s former top security aide admitted he “made a mistake” in attending a demonstration where he was filmed roughing up May Day protesters, in an interview published Thursday.

But Alexandre Benalla also denounced what he said was a “desire to get at the president” over the scandal.

“I feel like I have done something really stupid. And have made a mistake… I should never have gone to that demonstration as an observer, then I should have held back” he told the newspaper Le Monde.

Le Monde had last week published smartphone videos of Benalla hitting one protester and violently wrestling another — while wearing a police helmet and armband — during the May 1 demonstration in Paris.

Revelations that top officials in Macron’s office knew about the incident have sparked furious opposition claims of a cover-up in the worst scandal since the 40-year-old office took office last year.

Two parliamentary committees have been grilling top aides to Macron over the affair, with the president’s chief of staff Alexis Kohler the latest to take the stand on Thursday.

Kohler, speaking before a Senate committee, acknowledged that officials’ initial decision to punish Benalla with a two-week suspicion may “appear insufficient” but at the time it seemed “proportionate”.

Benalla was charged Sunday with assault and impersonating a police officer.


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