23 July 2004


Government still blocking search for missing journalist Guy-André Kieffer

Incident details

Guy-André Kieffer



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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has accused the Ivoirian government of "still doing all it can to ensure the truth never emerges" about the April disappearance of journalist Guy-André Kieffer and said impunity remained the rule in Côte d'Ivoire.

A promise to the journalist's family that it would be possible to question everyone involved in the case has been broken and was clearly "just a trick to appease international public opinion," RSF said.

Kieffer, 54, a freelance economics reporter who has dual French and Canadian citizenship, was based in Abidjan since early 2002. He was a regular contributor to the Paris-based newsletter "La Lettre du Continent" and several Ivoirian publications. He was last seen in an Abidjan shopping centre on 16 April 2004. Married with two children, he had worked for the French business daily "La Tribune" from 1984 until he went to Côte d'Ivoire.

Despite the government's obstruction, Ivoirian and French investigators have made some progress. Michel Legré, brother-in-law of President Laurent Gbagbo's wife Simone and the last person to see the journalist alive, implicated Finance Minister Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré when he appeared recently before Judge Patrick Ramaël, the chief French investigator.

Legré said the finance minister personally handed him an envelope containing one million CFA francs (approx. US$1,800; 1,500 euros) just a few hours after Kieffer disappeared.

The judge has established that Legré, currently in jail in Abidjan in connection with the case, returned to the shopping centre hours after the disappearance and then went to the airport, where Kieffer's car was found in the car park three weeks later.

Ramaël has complained to the chief Ivoirian investigator, Judge Koffi Kouadio, that the authorities have not allowed him to question two soldiers mentioned by Legré, on grounds that their superiors could not locate them. Simone Gbagbo's security chief, Anselme Seka Yapo, and the president's defence adviser, Bertin Gahié Kadet, have also refused to be questioned by Ramaël.

The French judge has examined Kieffer's computer, which Legré handed over to the authorities, and found it had been switched on a few minutes after the journalist disappeared and that several files had been opened. His mobile phone messages had also been checked at the same time. This suggests he may have been kidnapped in connection with his work.

Judge Ramaël plans to go to Côte d'Ivoire for a third time in early September and will soon make a new formal request to Ivoirian authorities for permission to obtain evidence in connection with the case.


Reporters Without Borders
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Côte d'Ivoire
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