At the Benalla trial, the embarrassing saga of video surveillance images, from the archives of the Prefecture of police to the offices of the Elysee

If we were not inside a court, the eighth day of the hearing at the Benalla trial, Monday, September 28, before the 10e Parisian correctional chamber, would have the air of a bad boulevard room, so much the contortions of the defendants to explain the concealment and the dissemination of images from the CCTV cameras of the Prefecture of Police border on the absurd.

From May 2, 2018, the day after the excess of zeal of Alexandre Benalla, in charge of the Elysée Palace, and his friend Vincent Crase – who came to observe the police action during the demonstrations of the 1is-May, challenged in a muscular manner a couple who had thrown a decanter on CRS – concern is mounting, at the Elysee Palace as at the Prefecture of Police: a videographer, Taha Bouhafs has indeed posted on Twitter images of M Benalla in action at Place de la Contrescarpe.

If the video circulates a lot, the general public is still unaware that the latter is not a police officer in civilian clothes, but in charge of the presidency. Fearing that the matter for him “Jump in the face”, the head of the Directorate of Public Order and Traffic (DOPC), Alain Gibelin, had a note written to his subordinates, Commissioner Maxence Creusat and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the DOPC, Laurent Simonin – without passing it on to anyone. For his part, Alexandre Benalla warned of the existence of the video his hierarchy, who asked for clarification in place Beauvau. “In short, the whole Prefecture [de police] and all the ministry are aware ”, summarizes the president, Isabelle Prévost-Deprez.

But no action is taken, or almost: Alexandre Benalla is discreetly laid off for two weeks. He is back to work in time to manage the parade which marks the return of the Blues, winners of the FIFA World Cup, on July 16. The next day, the ax finally falls when The world, who is about to publish an article identifying him in Taha Bouhafs’ video, contacts Mr. Benalla.

Read also (2018): “Le Monde” identifies, on a video, a collaborator of Macron hitting a demonstrator, on May 1, in Paris

“Panic on board”

When the survey appeared on July 18 at the end of the day, it was “A little panic on board”, admits Simonin. Worried of ” restore the truth ” and of “Protect the institution”, Maxence Creusat suggests that his superior go and retrieve the archives of the prefecture’s surveillance cameras in order to be able to provide Mr. Benalla with images of the jet of a carafe which justified the muscular arrest of Georgios D.

“A mistake, a huge stupidity”, recognizes Mr. Simonin. He says he did not understand at the time that it was video surveillance images – that it is illegal to transmit to a third party. Alexandre Benalla, who recovers at the end of the evening in a shisha bar a CD-Rom containing the video, also explains that he was convinced at the time that they were amateur videos taken from the networks. “That’s a lot of officers mobilized at the Prefecture at midnight to find a video available online”, notes the president.

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