One of the 31-year-old defendant's lawyers, Jacqueline Laffont, pleaded at the opening of the hearing at the Paris Court of Appeal "personal and health difficulties" preventing her client from attending the hearing .

She mentioned a recent "leaving the hospital" accompanied by a medical leave "at least until January 30" but which can be extended.

“Given the seriousness of the medical reason invoked, we do not oppose”, reacted Georges Holleaux, lawyer for the former chief of staff of the Elysée François-Xavier Lauch, civil party to the trial, joined by all his colleagues as well as by the Advocate General.

“The court grants” this request for dismissal, declared the president of the court Jean-Michel Aubac, before setting a new date for the hearing on June 9, 14, 15 and 16.

The former bodyguard at the heart of the Elysée security system, absent at the hearing, was to be retried from this Friday for "violence in meetings", accused of having molested five people while seeking to arrest them on the sidelines of the May 1, 2018 demonstration in Paris, wearing a police helmet, while he only attended the parade as an "observer".

His identification by the newspaper Le Monde, in July 2018, on a video of the scene, had triggered a resounding political scandal.

His replies had shaken Emmanuel Macron's power for months, to the rhythm of press revelations and hearings before parliamentary committees.

Alexandre Benalla was also to appear for "forgery, use of forgery in writing and public use without the right to a badge" for having continued to travel with diplomatic passports after his dismissal from the Elysée.

He also had to answer again for illegally carrying a handgun in 2017.

At first instance, he was sentenced to three years in prison, including a firm sentence, under an electronic bracelet, a ban on public employment for five years and a ban on carrying a weapon for ten years.

His sidekick Vincent Crase, 49, former security officer for the En Marche party (now Renaissance), was also absent from the hearing.

At first instance, this former reservist gendarme had been given a two-year suspended prison sentence for "violence in meetings", "prohibited carrying" of a telescopic baton and "interference in a public function" for having participated illegally in the arrest of three people.

He is also accused of having forced one of these people to erase a video taken with his mobile phone.

© 2023 AFP