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Benalla to appear before French Senate commission

© Thomas Samson, AFP | In this file photo taken on July 16, 2018 Élysée senior security officer Alexandre Benalla stands next to a bus and the plane transporting France's national football team at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-09-12

Emmanuel Macron’s former security aide Alexandre Benalla said late Tuesday he would appear before a Senate’s inquiry into the affair that bears his name in a bid to avoid “legal proceedings”.

Benalla had initially refused to appear before the commission, only to change his mind when he was threatened with two years in prison.

The scandal kicked off in July when Benalla, a top Macron security aide, was identified in a video as acting violently towards a protester while wearing police equipmentduring a Mayday parade.

>> Read more: France's Benalla affair: Timeline of an Élysée Palace scandal

Benalla, who initially stayed in his job before a public uproar led to his dismissal, has since faced initial charges, including committing violent acts and impersonating a police officer.

While Macron promised transparency and an exemplary government before his election, the scandal raised questions about his team's working methods and actions.

The Senate formed a commission to investigate the affair and called the main protagonists to testify.

Early Tuesday, Benalla’s lawyer said that the 26-year-old wanted to make his first statements about the events in his trial, so he would refuse for the moment to respond to the commission’s summons.

But by evening Benalla had changed his tune, saying that he had been threatened with further legal action should he refuse to appear. He said he would go but would not respond to questions that would risk national security or his professional integrity.

The president of the commission clarified, saying that Benalla has no choice legally but to appear.

Refusal carries a penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 7,500 euros.

The Senate commission hearings begin on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2018-09-12

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