Reporters Without Borders said Saturday it hails French investigating judge Patrick Ramaël’s efforts to advance the investigation into Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer’s disappearance in Abidjan in 2004 and reiterates its support for Kieffer’s family. The remains of a body that could be Kieffer’s was disinterred yesterday in Côte d’Ivoire and samples were taken that will be subject to DNA identification next week in France.
“Caution is required as long as the remains have not been identified as Kieffer’s but one thing is certain – this is the first time in nearly eight years that the investigation has been pursued so far,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is the first time that Judge Ramaël has been able disinter a body, take a sample and have DNA tests carried out.”
When the Kieffer family filed a formal request for an investigation with the French judicial authorities in 2004, Reporters Without Borders registered as an interested party in the case.
“We are still a long way from finding out exactly what happened to Kieffer,” the press freedom organization added. “If it is turns out that the remains are Kieffer’s, confirming that he was murdered and then buried after his abduction, the identity of those who gave the orders and those who carried it out still has to be established. Who killed him? Why? Several persons suspected of being involved have never been detained.”
The body that was unearthed on Ramaël’s orders yesterday was found as a result of a tip-off in a village in the western region of Issia. The results of the DNA tests on the samples taken from the remains are expected sometime next week.
Ramaël has visited Côte d’Ivoire three times since Laurent Gbagbo’s replacement as president by Alassane Ouattara last April. The people he questioned during a visit in November included Patrice Baï, who was Gbagbo’s chief bodyguard, and Anselme Séka Yapo, who headed the unit that protected former first lady Simone Gbagbo.
Kieffer was kidnapped by gunmen from an Abidjan supermarket parking lot on 16 April 2004 after being lured there by Simone Gbagbo’s brother-in-law, Michel Legré. Attempts to identify those responsible have been hampered by the fraught relations between France and the Gbabgo government, the difficulty of investigating in Côte d’Ivoire, and the pact of silence observed by those suspected of being involved, who were all close to the then president.