The most damaging scandal of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency deepened Saturday with his interior minister to face a grilling in parliament over his response to a top security aide of Macron caught on video beating up a young man at a Paris protest in May.
Opposition lawmakers have demanded that Macron, who has so far remained silent about the incident, explain the government’s stand after the videos of his aide Alexandre Benalla emerged this week.
“If Macron doesn’t explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen said in a tweet.
Laurent Wauquiez, the head of the Republicans party, accused the government of “trying to camouflage a matter of state” and said Macron had to clarify the matter to the French people.
Aide suspended, then fired
Benalla, 26, was initially suspended without pay, but on Friday Macron fired his former security aide, who was taken into custody suspected of unlawfully receiving police surveillance footage in a bid to clear his name.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has been heavily criticized over the affair, with some opposition lawmakers saying his job is on the line after press reports that he knew about Benalla’s violence.
Collomb will be publicly questioned Monday morning by the Law Commission of the National Assembly, the head of the lower house of parliament announced.
Police officers in custody
Also on Saturday, three police officers were taken into custody suspected of providing the surveillance footage to Benalla.
The Paris police prefecture said the footage was “improperly disclosed to a third party on the evening of July 18,” the same night the newspaper Le Monde published the video that sparked the scandal.
That video, shot on a smartphone, showed Benalla wearing a riot police helmet and surrounded by officers, manhandling and striking a protester during a May 1 demonstration.
In a second video published by the newspaper late Thursday, Benalla — who has never been a policeman — is also seen violently wrestling a young woman to the ground during scuffles on a square near the Rue Mouffetard.