Benalla case: weariness, excesses, but especially questions

Home"TO THE ONE"Benalla case: weariness, excesses, but especially questions
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Alexandre Benalla at 20h of TF1, Friday. Photo Frédéric Stucin for Liberation. Photo Frédéric Stucin for Libération

There are two very different types of business that are now mingling in the whirlwind of scandal. A news item first, then the treatment by the top of the state of this episode and the political crisis that ensued.

No, it's not just the Benalla-Macron case in life and even in the news. Yes, millions of French people are on vacation and surely have something else to think about. Nevertheless, if we rely on the few rigorous opinion polls for Macron, on the high television audiences of Gerard Collomb's hearing in the Assembly and especially on the nature of the facts, why turn the page on a soap opera (yes, it's one) while many minor questions remain unresolved? And while the revelations continued in parallel with the crisis management by the Elysée, the counterattack of Benalla and psychodrama in the Assembly. But let's be clear, there are two very different types of affairs that are mingling today in the whirlwind of scandal. A story first, however, about a character far from being a simple porter Elysee, then the treatment by the top of the state's secret episode and the resulting political crisis. A source cocktail, how to deny it, of many political recoveries and tensions in the Assembly even if that is not the point here.

Read also" Inquiry into the Assembly: from hot birth to live explosion

The facts of the 1st of May, when they are committed, concern in the first place Alexandre Benalla and his friend Vincent Crase, as well as this major Mizerski supposed to supervise them but who will have been the only observer. More broadly, at this level, it is the operation of the police headquarters that is posed. In its report submitted Friday, the General Inspectorate of the National Police (IGPN) advocates the transmission of a circular by the hierarchy and the creation of a distinctive sign for observers, to avoid confusion and usurpation.

A major-chaperon who does not frame anything

Concerning the episode of the Contrescarpe, if it seems established that the divisional commissioner Laurent Simonin is the one who invited Alexandre Benalla to come that day, a priori without referring to his hierarchy, the presence at his side of Vincent Crase - of which the IGPN has admitted, as Release had pointed it, that he appears to be armed (illegally) on the video revealed by the world, was not explained otherwise than by its proximity to Benalla. In the report of the IGPN, we read the story of this breathtaking scene: Benalla landing on May 1 in the courtyard of the police headquarters with "his" Renault Talisman equipped police and accompanied by Crase he then presented as a partner". We discover the latter some time later on the field with a police armband as shown a new video revealed by Release. Crase being an employee of the Republic in motion, Christophe Castaner, the boss of the party, will be questioned in this regard during his hearing Tuesday in the Senate.

Alexandre Benalla et Vincent Crase, en intervention le 1er mai 2018 dans le Jardin des Plantes, à Paris.

The new video we publish shows that almost three hours before the episode of the Place de la Contrescarpe, the duo Benalla-Crase was already mop with the major. On the pictures we discover that Crase, whose presence on that day is even less justified than that of Benalla, wears a "police" armband. Far from the well framed speech of his 20h, everything indicates that Benalla, like Crase, was in police mode several hours before the facts revealed by the world. Here again, no police force is out of date, and this time young people do not have any indication that the behavior would have justified the intervention not of observers but of police officers. And still, this major-chaperon who framed nothing, who explained to the IGPN, concerning the facts of the place of the Contrescarpe, that "Because of his rank" he did not feel to intervene while he was yet "Embarrassed by the turn of things" events ... Each time, Benalla and Crase are very worried about being filmed, which does not denote an absolute serenity.

Violence without result

Another legitimate question: why were the two people arrested by Benalla and Crase on the 1st of May released without any procedure? In other words: who took the unusual decision not to proceed while they were taken to the Gospel, a police station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, for an identity card? These were potentially facts of "Armed violence on the depositary of public authority" most of which lead to immediate appearances. Especially since May 2, the images showing them throwing objects on the police were on the table. This is the question posed by the prosecutor of the Republic of Paris, François Molins, fully in his role by questioning the action of the police in a letter addressed to the direction of proximity security of the Paris metropolitan area (DSPAP ).

At the same time, Molins opened an investigation into the violence against the police - which is vigorously put forward by all the police or political actors interviewed but also of course by Alexandre Benalla, who finds there the very questionable legal justification of the acts of violence. bravery that he claims beyond the "political" fault he concedes. A fault which according to him is not to have been violent outside any legal framework but to have exposed the president by his inconsistency. While much of the facts of the 1st of May now seem known, it is now up to justice to establish and punish responsibilities. It will be recalled nevertheless that the parquet floor would not have known of the Benalla case without the video broadcast by the world and who had circulated on the social networks in the indifference of the authorities before the identification of the official of the Elysée.

Justice kept away

If it were "only" that, there would be every reason to leave it there. If there is business, it is of course at another level at the Elysee. Not out of an obsession to pay for Macron or his close entourage, but because there are still legitimate questions about the management by the top of the state of this crisis that it seems to have sought to stifle. Or in any case to manage secretly, in an administrative inter-court where justice is kept apart until it is no longer tenable. It is a temptation for the authorities to think that everything that concerns them is a matter of state rationale, but in this case, Mr. Benalla's "betrayal" did not have much to do with such issues.

Lucidity and prudence should have led the Elysee, and therefore the Secretary General Alexis Kohler while Emmanuel Macron was between Australia and New Caledonia, to "border" and thus report the facts to the prosecutor's office (the famous Article 40) while taking an administrative sanction as it was done. One and the other. In full social movement, we can hypothesize, as has been told, that the political arbitration was quickly made between managing hot episode, out of context and therefore possibly explosive, and take the risk of having to assume later if the facts came to be known to the public. It should be noted that justice has since seized illico, she who had not been put in the loop in May.

Opacity and "dysfunctions"

But basically, the com 'club of Benalla, fitting with the language elements of the macronia and the coup de grace brought to the Assembly's inquiry committee, refocusing the commentary on the facts of the 1st of May. So on the police responsibility, far from the Elysee who hopes that the "I assume" brave and sterile boss will be enough to end this "Storm in a glass of water" which is still a lot of waves. Opacity on the "Dysfunction" of Elysian governance is still in order. It must be noted, for example, that it is not yet clear on the precise role played by President Benalla in the presidency, as well as on the Macron couple, on the justification of his carrying of arms and on this famous redesign of the presidential security that appears at the source of many tensions and settling of accounts.

We were also challenged by the fact that the Minister of the Interior and walker from the first hour, Gérard Collomb, declared under oath to the Assembly not to know Benalla otherwise than by sight, while the latter affirms in the world that they happen to be familiar with each other and that in the evening of the 1st of May their exchange would have been more than cordial. The urbanity advocated by Collomb seems a little light. And suddenly one wonders which of the two lies and if it is the minister, why such caution to stay as far as possible from Benalla? Prefect Delpuech had no problem saying that the latter, obviously not his cup of tea, was an interlocutor 'Identified'. In the story, dissociating his fate from that of the police hierarchy, Collomb lost credit in the house, which is never good when you are the boss.

Illegal detention of video surveillance images

The route of the CCTV images of the Place de la Contrescarpe also interests more than ever justice. While three police officers (including Commissioner Simonin) are already indicted for handing them illegally to Benalla, also targeted in this part that justified his dismissal, Paris prosecutor's office on Friday expanded the open investigation for "Hijacking of images from a video surveillance system" and "Concealment of breach of professional secrecy". It now aims more broadly at all those who could have transmitted these videos, while Mediapart has posted the anonymous broadcast on Twitterduring the night of 18 to 19 July, these images obtained illegally. The role of advisers of the Elysee remains to be specified, in particular that of Ismael Emelien, a very close adviser of the President, which the Elysée recognized, after the revelations of BFMTV, that he had seen the same evening the video brought by Benalla.

The stake is in particular to know if the possession of the images by Élysée was longer than the legitimate time to realize their illegal origin and, worse, if as this seems to take shape, they were used a few hours after the revelations of the World to try to exonerate Alexander Benalla entry. Remained for a few hours online, these tweets were quickly erased but netizens took screenshots and sent them to Mediapart. In addition to the images, these tweets include comments aimed at clearing Alexandre Benalla by showing the violence of the protesters. Precisely the argument repeated by the chief of staff of the Elysee, Patrick Strzoda, and the Minister of the Interior, Gérard Collomb, before the commission of inquiry of the National Assembly. And by the communicators of the Elysee since the outbreak of the case. Pleading coincidence may not be enough.

Jonathan Bouchet-Petersen

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