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Cote d’Ivoire/Canada/France - Guy-André Kieffer

Franco-Canadian journalist killed by first lady’s security guards, says French TV

Article published on the 2009-07-22 Latest update 2009-07-22 14:39 TU

Jean-Tony Oulaï(Photo : AFP)

Jean-Tony Oulaï
(Photo : AFP)

A man who says he was a Major in Côte d’Ivoire's army has told a French television station that Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer, who went missing in 2004, was killed by members of the first lady’s entourage. Alain Gosse said that Kieffer was killed in a botched interrogation.

“From what we heard, this man was shot in error,” said Gosse in an interview with the France 3 television station. “They wanted to scare him… What is certain is that Mrs Gbagbo is not implicated that much. Her cabinet was; her close guards. But it was a mistake.”

Gosse said he was part of the presidential entourage on 16 April 2004, when Kieffer was kidnapped from a parking lot in the capital, Abidjan. Kieffer had an appointment with Michel Legré, a brother-in-law President Laurent Gbagbo’s wife, Simone

Gosee said three men interrogated the journalist: Seka Yapo Anselme, head of security for the first lady; Patrice Baï, who was head of the presidential security detail at the time; and Jean-Tony Oulaï, who is suspected of having organised the kidnapping, and who is currently being detained in France.

“They threatened [Kieffer], asking him about what he was doing,” said Gosse. “Oulaï came and called Commander Seka, and they came with four - or three - vehicles… and they left with him. From word of mouth, we learned that this man was shot in error. Mr Oulaï wanted to warn him so he would be scared into talking.”

Kieffer, who was born in France but later obtained Canadian citizenship, was working on a story about government corruption which may have been tied to the country’s lucrative cocoa trade.

Kieffer’s family and the media watchdog Reporters without Borders opened civil proceedings in France in 2004.

The first lady was interviewed by the investigating judges last year.

The only person who has so far been charged in the kidnapping is Legré, who was arrested in Abidjan. He was released provisionally in 2005 and fled the country.

Gosse has reported left Côte d’Ivoire since recording the interview. He will be interviewed by the two investigating judges, and will face Oulaï.

Radio France Internationale reporter Christian Baldensberger, whose nom de plume was Jean Hélène, was killed by a police sergeant in Abidjan in 2003.