Paris prosecutors Monday opened a probe into alleged false testimony in the case of French President Emmanuel Macron’s former bodyguard who was filmed hitting protesters at last year’s May Day rally.
Those targeted include the president’s cabinet chief Patrick Strzoda, prosecutors said in a statement.
The scandal — which saw Alexandre Benalla fired last year after a video emerged of him roughing up protestors — continues to overshadow the Macron presidency.
A perjury probe has been opened targeting Benalla as well as Vincent Crase, a former staffer of Macron’s ruling party, and Strzoda, prosecutors said in a statement.
It comes after several protagonists in the case testified before the commission of inquiry of France’s upper house, the Senate.
The investigations were opened after the Senate signalled deficiencies in testimony to the Paris prosecutors.
The Senate complained of “incoherence and contradictions” in the testimony of Strzoda and two other top aides of Macron, chief of staff Alexis Kohler and presidential security chief Lionel Lavergne.
A former bouncer, Benalla began working as a bodyguard for Macron during the young candidate’s election campaign in 2016 before being promoted to a senior security role in the presidential palace following Macron’s election in May 2017.
After being given leave by the presidency to attend the May Day protest as an observer, he waded into the fray wearing a police helmet, grabbing a female demonstrator by the neck and hitting a male demonstrator.
The presidency initially held off reporting Benalla to the authorities.
Benalla was fired and placed under investigation after Le Monde newspaper broke the story in July 2018. It was Strzoda who authorised Benalla to attend the demonstration.
A French Senate commission of inquiry found “major flaws” in the government’s handling of the affair and said it suspected Macron’s aides of trying to cover up some of the details.
Perjury can be punished in France with up to five years in jail.