Former Macron bodyguard in French custody over misuse of diplomatic passports | News | DW | 18.01.2019
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Former Macron bodyguard in French custody over misuse of diplomatic passports

Alexandre Benalla, the presidential bodyguard filmed beating a May Day protester, appeared before a judge for using diplomatic passports after he was fired last July. Investigations continue after a court appearance.

French President Emanuel Macron's former bodyguard and security adviser Alexandre Benalla was taken into custody by officials on Thursday for his misuse of diplomatic passports. He appeared before an investigating judge in Paris on Friday.

The Paris Prosecutor's Office said that Benalla had used diplomatic passports to facilitate his consultancy work in Africa.  

He was referred Friday morning to the Paris prosecutor's office which opened a new judicial case for breach of trust and unauthorised use of official documents. The prosecutor's office ordered Benalla be placed under judicial supervision.

Benalla initially denied that he had used the passports, only to confess last week that he had. On Wednesday, Patrick Strzoda, Macron's chief of staff, informed the French Senate that Benalla had begun traveling on his two diplomatic passports within a week of his firing on July 22. Benalla lost his job after he was filmed attacking a May Day protester in Paris.

Video footage was used to identify Benalla during the May Day demonstrations in Paris in 2018.

Video footage was used to identify Benalla during the May Day demonstrations in Paris in 2018.

'Gaps in the system'

Strzoda said that Benalla had traveled on the passports at least 20 times. Strzoda also said that he could not rule out the possibility that Benalla had forged documents. Benalla also continued to use his secure phone until October of last year.

Benalla with Macron at the end of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris in July 2018

Benalla with Macron at the end of the Bastille Day military parade in Paris in July 2018

'Gaps in the system'

Strzoda admitted that the missing passports should have been noticed much earlier, namely when they were not among the items inventoried in his office on August 2. Macron's chief of staff suggested that Benalla may have "taken advantage of gaps in the system."

Since leaving the Elysee Palace, Benalla has traveled extensively to Africa to meet with leaders and high-level officials. One such visit came in early December, when he met with Idriss Deby, the president of Chad, just weeks before Macron was scheduled to meet him on a state visit.

Benalla has repeatedly claimed that he has been in regular contact with President Macron since he was fired. Macron has denied having any contact with his former bodyguard.

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js/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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