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Ex-Macron bodyguard Benalla in custody over use of diplomatic passports – prosecutor

Ex-Macron bodyguard Benalla in custody over use of diplomatic passports – prosecutor
Alexandre Benalla, the disgraced former security aide to French President Emmanuel Macron, has been placed in custody amid a probe into the use of diplomatic passports after resigning from the Élysée Palace.

Benalla, who was sacked last year after a scandal over his beating of protesters, continued to use his government-issued passports to travel to other nations, French media revealed in December. Paris prosecutors opened an investigation in response and have now taken the former official into custody, the office reported on Thursday.

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Diplomatic passports are issued to officials to make their travel easier and grant them some legal immunity while on foreign soil. Benalla reportedly handed over the ones issued to him after being fired, but got it back from the president’s office in October. The document is said to expire in September 2022.

The ex-adviser stands accused of misusing his diplomatic passport in 20 trips between August and December, according to Macron’s chief of staff, Patrick Strzoda, who spoke on the issue on Wednesday before the French Senate Law Commission.

The Benalla affair erupted in July last year after a video was published by the French media showing the trusted aide and ex-bodyguard to Macron beating up a protester during May Day demonstrations while impersonating a police officer.

The publication sparked an outcry in the country and became one of the biggest scandals rocking the Macron presidency. More unease over the case popped up after additional evidence emerged of Benalla’s brutality and use of his political clout to obtain police surveillance footage in an apparent attempt to defend himself from investigation.

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