The brother-in-law of President Laurent Gbagbo’s wife, Michel Legré, has been charged on 11 October with "abduction and holding" of missing French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer.
French examining judge Patrick Ramaël was preparing to issue an arrest warrant against Legré, the last person to have seen the Abidjan-based freelance journalist before his disappearance on Friday, 16 April 2004.
The warrant would be postponed for two months to allow the Ivorian citizen, currently being held in custody in Abidjan, to be questioned in France.
Reporters Without Borders and Kieffer’s wife Osange Silou-Kieffer both welcomed the step as "real progress". "We can now assess whether the Ivorian authorities are genuinely willing to see this case thoroughly investigated. We are sure the Ivorian government will respond favourably to the French judge’s request".
"If they do otherwise we could only conclude that it was a deliberate act intended to block this investigation for good," they said.
During their stay in Cote d’Ivoire from 3-15 October 2004, Patrick Ramaël and co-examining judge Emmanuelle Ducos have managed to question several people named by Legré, who is brother-in-law of Mrs Simone Gbagbo.
They were: Aubert Zohore, head of the private office of the economy and finance minister, Victor Nembelissini, managing director of the Banque nationale d’investissement, Anselme Seka Yapo, security chief for Mrs Gbagbo, Bertin Gahié Kadet, defence advisor to the president and Moïse Kore, who describes himself as pastor to President Laurent Gbagbo.
All five were interviewed by both judges, who have no plans to return to Cote d’Ivoire for the time being.
Two members of the military, who were also named by Legré as having taken part in kidnapping the journalist, have not been found.
Kieffer, 54, married and father of two children, was last seen around 1pm on 16 April 2004 in a commercial centre of the capital. He specialised in commodities and economic and financial affairs, working for the French financial daily La Tribune from 1984 to the start of 2002, when he moved to Abidjan. He worked there as a freelance, contributing to La Lettre du Continent and several Ivorian newspapers.