French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb will be questioned by the legislative power next week regarding the way government disciplined President Emmanuel Macron’s top bodyguard Alexandre Benalla.
A video showing Alexandre Benalla, a former bodyguard of Macron, in National Police gear striking and manhandling protesters during the May Day rallies in Paris has been released on social media. The video was published on July 18, by the French newspaper Le Monde, sparking the scandal.
Several opposition lawmakers, from different parties, have demanded that the matter be addressed, but the government has, so far, remained silent on the incident. “I ask him to speak out and to assume, respecting the Parliament,” France Unbowed party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told the newspaper.
Macron’s presidency is now facing its biggest crisis since he was sworn in. The Benalla affair is described by left-wing Melenchon as being “of the level of Watergate.”
Three investigations are currently underway.
Benalla, who has never been employed as a police officer, was initially suspended without pay for two weeks from the presidency’s services, and then fired, on Friday, after the video was made public. The ex-bodyguard was taken into custody on suspicion of receiving police surveillance footage, in an unlawful way, in a bid to clear his name.
Benalla will face a magistrate on Sunday, according to a Paris prosecutor.
Interior Minister Collomb will be publically questioned Monday by the National Assembly’s Law Commission, and by the Senate on Tuesday. Reports are that the government was aware of Benalla’s actions but failed to respond adequately.
On Saturday, three senior police officers were taken into custody on suspicion of providing footage to the former security official.