Reporters Without Borders activists clad in white overalls threw buckets of liquid cocoa and fake dollars at the gates of Côte d’Ivoire’s embassy in Paris today to point the finger of blame in the case of missing French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer on the eve of the first anniversary of his disappearance in Abidjan on 16 April 2004.
The protest was part of a demonstration to demand the "truth for Guy-André" that took place peacefully and lasted half an hour. Members of the Truth for Guy-André Kieffer Support Committee and the journalist’s wife, Osange Silou-Kieffer, also took part.
"We threw cocoa because it is the ’black box’ of those in power in Abidjan and because Kieffer was investigating the embezzlement of cocoa earnings by government officials at the time of his disappearance," Reporters Without Borders said.
"We demonstrated outside the Ivorian embassy today because the ball is now in the government’s court in the investigation. To prove its good will, the government must allow the investigation to advance." The organization said this meant agreeing at once to a French judge’s request for Ivorian citizen Michel Legré, the leading suspect in the disappearance, to be transferred to France for two months for questioning.
The political obstruction in both Paris and Abidjan that is blocking the investigation by French judge Patrick Ramaël was one of the key points stressed at a news conference held today at the foreign press centre (CAPE) at the Maison de la Radio in Paris.
The brother-in-law of President Laurent Gbagbo’s wife, Legré was the last person to see Kieffer before he went missing. Ramaël charged him on 21 October 2004 with "abducting and holding" Kieffer. On 13 December, he requested Legré’s temporary transfer to France for questioning. Legré is currently being held in an Abidjan detention centre where he is subject to all sorts of pressure that prevent him from talking freely.
When Ramaël last visited Côte d’Ivoire from 12 to 26 February, his request had still not been received by the Ivorian authorities. Kieffer’s wife was told yesterday the request had finally reached the Ivorian justice ministry.
Aged 54 and the father of two children, Kieffer was last seen at around 1 p.m. on 16 April 2004 in a shopping centre in Abidjan, the business capital of Côte d’Ivoire. He specialised in commodities and business, working for the French business daily La Tribune from 1984 to early 2002, when he moved to Abidjan and began freelancing for La Lettre du Continent and several Ivorian newspapers.