Anger over beating meted out by Emmanuel Macron´s bodyguard to student

Alexandre Benalla

Paris prosecutors announced their probe into Alexandre Benalla on Thursday amid a public outcry over the incident on May 1.

However, he maintained his office at the presidential palace.

Macron's office confirmed that dismissal proceedings were under way against Benalla on Friday after "new facts" came to light.

Le Monde newspaper published a video showing Alexandre Benalla hitting and then stamping on a young man while wearing a police visor during a demonstration in central Paris on May 1.

Macron's chief of staff, Patrick Strzoda, was interviewed as a witness by investigators Friday, according to the -lys-e.

The controversy has dominated media coverage in France for the past 24 hours, with opposition leaders criticising Macron for not firing the aide right away and keeping silent.

The video-taker, Bouhafs, said on French radio, "The man on the ground was harmless and begged Benalla to stop".

Benalla, a member of the Elysee Palace security staff, appears to be dragging a woman and then hitting a young man, as real French police officers watch on and do not intervene.

"By not immediately managing a disciplinary problem, Emmanuel Macron now faces a political crisis", wrote the right-wing Le Figaro daily - which usually makes no secret of its admiration for the president.

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On a trip to southwestern France on Thursday, Macron declined to answer questions from reporters on the subject.

Lawmakers have launched a parliamentary inquiry into the incident itself, the lenient initial punishment and the failure of the authorities to report Benalla promptly to the judiciary. "This man is the eyes and ears of the prince (Mr Macron)".

"I'm surprised he hasn't resigned", said conservative politician Jean-Christophe Lagarde, adding that if Mr Benalla did not resign himself, the President should remove him or risk the drama becoming "an affair of state".

"The feeling is that at the Elysee people think they're above everything", Wauquiez said.

Lawyer Audrey Gadot leaves the headquarters of judicial police on July 20, 2018 in Paris, were her client top security French aide Alexandre Benalla has been detained for questioning on charges of manhandling and striking a demonstrator while wearing a police helmet.

The case has also prompted unflattering accounts of Benalla's behaviour from other officials who have worked with him.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, responding to questions in the Senate, called the video images "shocking", but stumbled to respond to questions, notably whether all French are equal before the law.

Labour unions hold demonstrations every year on May 1 in France and clashes with police are not uncommon.

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