The French-Canadian journalist, based in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), was last seen in the middle of the day at a shopping centre in the city.
Married with two children and aged 54, he specialized in writing about commodities and economic and financial matters. He worked for the French business daily La Tribune from 1984 until early 2002. Since then he had been working in Abidjan for the French La Lettre du Continent newsletter and several Ivoirian newspapers.
Michel Legré, brother-in-law of President Laurent Gbagbo’s wife Simone, was the last person to see him alive and was put under formal investigation by French judge Patrick Ramaël on 21 October 2004 for "kidnapping and holding" the journalist.
Legré told Ramaël that Ivoirian finance minister Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré had given him an envelope containing one million CFA francs (about 1,500 euros) at around 16:00, a few hours after the kidnapping. The judge has asked the Ivoirian authorities for permission to take evidence from Legré in France, under a legal exchange treaty between the two countries, but the Ivoirians have not responded.
The judge has established that Legré, currently in prison in Abidjan, returned to the shopping centre a few hours after Kieffer vanished and then went to the airport in the evening. The journalist’s car was found in the parking lot there three weeks later.
Judge Ramaël has also examined Kieffer’s computer, which Legré handed over to the authorities. It had been looked at by someone very shortly after he disappeared and several files opened. The messages on his mobile phone had been listened to as well. All this suggests he was kidnapped because of his work as a journalist.