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Cote d’Ivoire8 August 2004

Léonard Guédé released from police custody in Paris

(JPEG) The Ivorian finance minister’s head of public relations, Léonard Guédé (photo), was released on the evening of 5 August, a day after he was detained in Paris for questioning about the disappearance of French-Canadian freelance reporter Guy-André Kieffer in Abidjan on 16 April.

Guédé, who is also known by the name James Cenach, reportedly confirmed information provided by the leading witness in the case, Michel Legré, in particular, the names of the persons allegedly involved in Kieffer’s kidnapping. He also recognised that he had publicly threatened Kieffer in the company of national investment bank director Victor Nembelissini shortly before Kieffer disappeared.

In a search of Guédé’s Paris home, the police found a very complete file on Kieffer on Guédé’s computer.


Progress in investigation into disappearance of Guy-André Kieffer

Reporters Without Borders today welcome yesterday’s arrest in Paris of an Ivorian finance ministry official who has been linked to the disappearance of French-Canadian freelance reporter Guy-André Kieffer in Abidjan on 16 April.

The official is Léonard Guédé, who is generally known by the name James Cenach. He was on a visit to Paris when he was detained on the orders of Patrick Ramaël, a French judge who has been investigating the case. Cenach was placed in police custody for questioning about Kieffer’s disappearance. His Paris home was also searched.

"We welcome this new advance in the investigation, which clearly shows that Judge Ramaël is using all of his prerogatives in order to shed light on the case," Reporters Without Borders said. We salute the judge’s tenacity and courage all the more as he had to deal with many obstructions in his investigation and received death threats during his most recent visit to Ivory Coast."

A person detained in connection with the case in Abidjan, Michel Legré, has on several occasions claimed that Cenach organised the kidnapping of Kieffer on the orders of finance minister Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré, who had been criticised by Kieffer in his articles. Cenach, who is head of public relations for the minister, had on several occasions verbally attacked and threatened Kieffer in public.

Legré, who is the brother-in-law of President Laurent Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, is said to be the last person to see Kieffer alive.

A freelancer reporter based in Abidjan since early 2002, Kieffer wrote about business, finance and commodities for the Paris-based newsletter La Lettre du Continent and several Ivorian publications. He was last seen in an Abidjan shopping-centre on 16 April.

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