A Paris court sentenced President Emmanuel Macron’s former bodyguard Friday to three years, two of which were suspended, for his role in the 2018 May Day scandal and misuse of diplomatic passports.
Alexandre Benalla was charged for acting with impunity in carrying out violence against civilians and interfering with police affairs during a demonstration on May 1, 2018, according to Reuters. Benalla was also found guilty of illegally carrying a gun at a 2017 Macron campaigning event.
The long-time bodyguard and confidant of Macron will serve his time under house arrest while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. Benalla was also fined €500 ($575USD).
Benalla’s actions, almost three years ago, gave Macron his first serious political scandal in what was then a young presidency.
After protests erupted over Macron’s unpopular public sector labor reforms, a video surfaced showing Benalla was allowed by Paris police officers to beat and drag protestors within the Élysée while illegally dressed as an officer. Criticism grew as questions arose as to why the officers allowed Benalla to act as he did. Benalla was allegedly acting as an observer at the event. Macron was not at the Élysée at the time.
Benalla was fired shortly after the incident, but public outrage grew as allegations of an attempted cover-up of the incident became widespread. Macron has since denied those allegations.
Macron faces re-election in April, and it is yet unclear if the sentencing will have any effect on the result. Opinion polls currently have Macron as the likely winner, but the margin is close. Far-right National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, currently poll only a few points behind the center-left Macron.