Former Macron bodyguard sentenced to prison for May Day assaults

The May Day scandal was an embarrassment to Macron, who is expected to run again in elections next year.

The court said Alexandre Benalla, who was also found guilty of illegally using diplomatic passports and illegally carrying a weapon, acted with “a feeling of impunity and omnipotence,” a franceinfo reporter present in court said on Twitter.

The court’s sentence was harsher than the 18-month suspended period requested by prosecutors.

Benalla will serve the one-year sentence at home with an electronic bracelet, media such as BFM TV said.

Macron and his Elysee palace team came under fire in 2018 for failing to immediately fire Benalla, who was fired when video of the incident surfaced six weeks later.

The video showed Benalla mistreating protesters during a police-led crowd control operation. Although he was allowed to enter as an observer, he ended up participating in the operation, dressed in clothing marked by the police. He said he only wanted to help the police and did not do anything illegal.

What became widely known as “the Benalla affair” raised questions about Macron’s highly centralized style of government and the broad powers vested in the president during the Fifth Republic of France. Macron rejected the allegations, saying the Elysee had not sought to protect Benalla.

It was unclear if the ruling could have any impact on Macron’s re-election chances in April. Opinion polls currently see him as the likely winner and the initial campaign has focused on other issues, such as immigration and purchasing power.

Benalla, 30, told a Senate committee that she had thought she could use diplomatic passports, but had made a mistake.

“I’m not a bully,” he said in a Senate investigation in September 2018.

The court also fined Benalla 500 euros ($ 575).

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