A former security assistant to French President Emmanuel Macron has been tried in Paris on several counts.
Alexandre Benalla is accused of willful violence, illegal carrying of a police badge and carrying a weapon.
Three years ago, he was filmed beating a man and violently dragging a woman during a demonstration on May 1, 2018.
If found guilty, Benalla faces up to seven years in prison and a € 100,000 fine.
His actions and the handling of the incident by the French government led to a major political crisis for the French presidency.
Questions have been raised about Benalla’s precise role at the presidential Elysee Palace and why he stopped observing the 2018 protests to take on the supposed role of a police officer.
Hundreds of violent demonstrators had invaded the traditional May Day march by the unions when Benalla took action at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.
“It was war,” Benalla told investigators, insisting that as an observer he did not intend to act violently but intervened as it was his duty as “citizen” to arrest the “police aggressors”.
Benalla was first suspended from his job for 15 days before returning to head security for the 2018 FIFA World Cup victory parade on Champs-Elysees Avenue on Bastille Day.
He was investigated later in July and, amid public outcry, was fired from his post at the presidential palace.
French media inquiries also revealed that Benalla held two diplomatic passports to travel to Africa and Israel after being fired from his ill-defined job at the presidential palace.
The initial investigation was launched after Benalla was also photographed with a gun to his hip as he served as Macron’s security assistant during his presidential campaign in 2017.
The former official is on trial alongside three other people, including a former employee of Macron’s “En Marche” party and two police officers.
Police officers share video surveillance footage of Benalla beating the protester and violating professional secrets.
At the same time, two of the people who filed a complaint against Benalla were convicted in February 2019 for throwing projectiles at the police.