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Bodies of murdered RFI journalists arrive in Bamako

© FRANCE 24

Video by Julia SIEGER , Oliver FARRY , Sanam SHANTYAEI

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2013-11-04

A French military plane has transported the coffins of Radio France Internationale’s Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon to the Malian capital, where tribute ceremonies are scheduled on Monday. Mali and France have opened criminal investigations.

The bodies of murdered Radio France Internationale (RFI) journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon have arrived in the Malian capital of Bamako, where memorial ceremonies are scheduled on Monday before they are flown back to Paris.

On Sunday evening, the French air force airlifted the two military-issue steel coffins to Bamako airport. Soldiers carried them onto the tarmac, where officials including Malian Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly and French Veterans Minister Kader Arif paid their respects.

“There were also Malian journalists and ordinary citizens who came to pay their respects,” said RFI and FRANCE 24 correspondent Serge Daniel at the scene.

Also on Sunday evening, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita held a special meeting with several ministers following the journalists’ abduction and murder in Kidal, in Mali’s troubled North.

“Mali is opening a criminal investigation. The president of the republic offered his condolences and that of the Malian people and government to the French people, the victims’ families and the media community,” said government spokesman Mahamane Baby.

He declined to comment on the possible identity of the journalists’ murderers.

'March of compassion and solidarity' in Bamako

RFI reported that French magistrates were expected to arrive in Mali to take part in the investigation, after a Paris prosecutor opened a criminal case on Saturday.

Members of RFI’s management who arrived in Bamako on Sunday are due to meet President Keita on Monday morning.

“At 3pm, they will join Malian journalists at the Press House for a march to the French embassy,” said FRANCE 24 correspondent Ramata Diaoré from Bamako.

All Malian media organisations have issued a joint call to take part in the “funeral march of compassion and solidarity”.

An official memorial is then scheduled at Bamako airport before the bodies are repatriated to Paris on an overnight flight.

Post-mortem examinations will then take place in France.

Tributes pouring into RFI’s email boxes and on social networks show that the grief for Dupont and Verlon extends well beyond Mali’s official and media circles.

 

“Farewell Ghislaine, farewell Claude. Your voices are louder than their weapons! Thank you RFI for existing and do not ever shut up,” wrote Willy M. C., a Malian listener.

RFI is one of the five most listened-to stations in Bamako, recent audience surveys found.

“Many people listen to RFI and regarded Ghislaine Dupont as a member of their family,” a resident of Kidal told FRANCE 24.

Date created : 2013-11-04

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