The former head of mission of the Elysee, Alexandre Benalla, is retried from Friday, June 9 for violence during May 1, 2018. They had earned him one year in prison at first instance.

The 31-year-old, now converted into the private sector, is accused of molesting three men and two women while trying to arrest them on the sidelines of the May 1, 2018 demonstration in Paris, wearing a police helmet, while he attended the parade only as an "observer".

The "Benallagate" had broken out on July 18, 2018, after its identification by the newspaper Le Monde on a video where it brutalized a couple place de la Contrescarpe.

The one who was, at 26 years old, at the center of the security device of the President of the Republic had been suspended 15 days, but still had an office at the "Castle", revealed the daily.

Use of diplomatic passports and illegal carrying of handguns

The article had triggered a political earthquake whose aftershocks had shaken for months the power of Emmanuel Macron, to the rhythm of revelations of the press and hearings in Parliament.

Alexandre Benalla will also have to answer again before the Court of Appeal of "forgery, use of forgery in writing and public use without right of a badge" for having continued to travel with diplomatic passports after his dismissal from the Elysee.

The former close aide of the president is finally accused of illegally carrying a handgun in 2017.

This appeal trial was originally scheduled to take place at the end of January, but the hearing was postponed due to "personal and health difficulties" of Alexandre Benalla.

"Absurd and irresponsible explanations"

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

At the hearing, he had denied almost all the alleged facts, claiming to have acted "by reflex" citizen, but not hesitating "to give absurd and irresponsible explanations", according to the judgment of the criminal court of Paris.

One of his lawyers contacted by AFP, Charles Chambenois, did not wish to speak before the hearing.

His acolyte Vincent Crase, at the time in charge of security at the party En Marche (now Renaissance), will also appear again on the dock for "violence in assembly", "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 delete a video taken with his mobile phone.

A long-time friend of Alexandre Benalla, the 50-year-old former reserve gendarme, now unemployed, had been sentenced at first instance to a two-year suspended prison sentence and a ban on carrying a weapon.

"He never wanted to ... rape anyone but on the contrary, defend the police and stop the commission of offenses by particularly aggressive demonstrators," his lawyer, Robin Binsard, told AFP.

The two police officers convicted at first instance for having transmitted CCTV images to Alexandre Benalla on the evening of the publication of the article in Le Monde have not appealed.

Trial until 16 June

In addition to the five alleged victims of the violence in assembly, two police unions are civil parties, as well as the former chief of staff of the Elysée François-Xavier Lauch and the author of the video of May 1, the former journalist and activist Taha Bouhafs, whose civil party had been deemed inadmissible at first instance.

Alexandra Benalla is the subject of three other preliminary investigations. One concerns his role in signing contracts with Russian oligarchs while he was in office at the Élysée.

Another, opened in February 2019 for "obstructing the manifestation of the truth", aims to determine whether he concealed evidence as part of the investigation into the violence of 1 May 2018, including two safes.

The third, launched in April 2019, concerns suspicions of "false testimony" of Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase before the Senate commission of inquiry into the case.

The trial is scheduled to last until June 16.

With AFP

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