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Journalist Guy-Andre Kieffer still alive, says prosecutor

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-10-01

Ivorian prosecutor Raymond Tchimou (pictured) said Thursday that Guy-Andre Kieffer, a journalist who disappeared in 2004, is still alive. The statement followed new testimony claiming that Kieffer died at the hands of the first lady's entourage.

A man claiming he was a soldier in Ivory Coast’s army said Wednesday that the Franco-Canadian journalist Guy-Andre Kieffer, who went missing from the West African country in 2004, was killed by members of the first lady’s entourage in a botched interrogation.

But in apparent response to the new testimony, Ivorian state prosecutor Raymond Tchimou told the news agency AFP that the journalist had been taken out of the country and is still alive. Tchimou offered no other explanations or details on the journalists purported whereabouts.

In a press conference on Thursday, Alexis Gublin, lawyer of the missing journalist's brother called the Tchimou’s statements "unacceptable" and demanded evidence that would support the prosecutor's statement.

Guy-Andre Kieffer was last seen alive in April 2004, in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan. At the time, the journalist was investigating corruption in the cocoa industry. When he went missing, two French judges took on the case.

The judges have long suspected, based on the accounts of key witnesses, that people close to the president could be implicated in Kieffer's disappearance, a theory now strengthened by the latest testimony to be admitted into the docket.

Based on the former soldier’s testimony to the French judges, Kieffer was seized and held within the presidential compound in 2004, and then killed by accident.

“By word of mouth we learnt that [Kieffer] had been shot by accident,” the man stated. He said that the crime was perpetrated by the guards of first lady Simone Gbagbo, but that she herself had no knowledge of the incident.

Simone Gbagbo has always maintained she never saw Guy André Kieffer, a story she stuck to when she herself was questioned in the affair.

Date created : 2009-10-01