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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

France's interior minister quizzed over handling of Macron's security man 

The review came a day after a judge handed down a perliminary charge against Alexandre Benalla 

Elysee senior security officer Alexandre Benalla appears in the background as French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (R) attend a dinner organised by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to break the fast of Ramadan in Paris on June 20, 2017. AFP 
Elysee senior security officer Alexandre Benalla appears in the background as French President Emmanuel Macron (C) and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (R) attend a dinner organised by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) to break the fast of Ramadan in Paris on June 20, 2017. AFP 

France's interior minister has insisted that it wasn't for him to inform judicial officials of violence by a presidential security aide against a May Day protester even though he was informed the following day.

Answering questions Monday from lawmakers, Gerard Collomb said his top aide informed him of a video showing Alexandre Benalla beating up a protester and that both the president's office and police chief had been informed.

The minister said he was later told that the office of President Emmanuel Macron had taken sanctions against Mr Benalla and it wasn't his job to do more.

Lawmakers were aghast to learn that Mr Benalla initially received only a two-week suspension and still had an office in the presidential palace 2½ months after the beating.

The failure to immediately inform judicial officials has developed into a major political crisis for President Emmanuel Macron.

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Read more:

Macron's heavy-handed security man puts him in tight spot

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Mr Benalla was only publicly identified last week as the man beating a protester on May 1 and handed preliminary charges on Sunday, along with four others, including three ranking police officers.

A parliamentary inquiry commission is trying to determine the facts, including the chain of command and the exact role of Benalla in Macron's office. Collomb, who is in charge of France's security forces, said Mr Benalla is not under his supervision.

A French judge handed preliminary charges to Mr Benalla Sunday that included violence, interfering in the exercise of public office and the unauthorized public display of official insignia.

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