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Army witness claims first lady's entourage kidnapped a journalist

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-22

A major in the army of the Ivory Coast claims that the entourage belonging to Simone Gbagbo – the nation’s first lady – is implicated in the disappearance of Franco-Canadian journalist, Guy Andre Kieffer, in April 2004.

Alain Gosse, a major in the army of Ivory Coast, claimed in an interview with French television channel France 3 that people close to Simone Gbagbo – the nation’s first lady – are implicated in the disappearance of Franco-Canadian journalist, Guy Andre Kieffer. The journalist went missing in April 2004.


In the interview, aired on Wednesday, Gosse said Gbagbo herself  “was not overly implicated, but her cabinet was” as well as those closest to her.


Gosse, who left Ivory Coast after the interview (which was originally taped in April 2009), says he was on duty in the presidential palace on April 16, 2004, and that he saw Kieffer.


Kieffer was last seen alive on the same date in a car park in Abidjan, where he was meant to have met with Michel Legre, the brother-in-law of Simone Gbagbo. His body has never been found.


“He was in a small cell, the kind of place where they often kept suspects,” said Gosse. “I exchanged words with him through the bars; he asked me for water and cigarettes.”


Gosse claims in the interview that three men served as “interrogators” to Kieffer – the head of security for Simone Gbagbo, head of security for the presidential palace and a third man who is suspected of having been the kidnappers' ringleader. The latter, named Jean-Tony Oulai, is in temporary custody in France.


In April, two judges were sent from France to Ivory Coast to interrogate Gbagbo, as well as the minister of national planning, Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabre – who was often a target of Kieffer’s articles.


“It’s a crucial step,” said Alexis Gublin, the lawyer representing Kieffer’s brother. “This new testimony makes us confident about the progress of the investigation.”



Date created : 2009-07-22