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01.11.2019 Europe

French MPs call for 'full facts' on RFI journalists' murders in Mali

By RFI
French MPs call for 'full facts' on RFI journalists' murders in Mali
NOV 1, 2019 EUROPE

French lawmakers have called on the government to bring fully to light the circumstances in which RFI journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon died, nearly six years to the day after they were killed.

The two were abducted and shot dead by armed men in Kidal, northern Mali, on 2 November 2013. The murders were claimed by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Two of the alleged killers are still on the run.

Despite the various investigations carried out since then, and the pledge by former president François Hollande that all relevant secret defence documents would be declassified, little has come out because the released information was heavily redacted.

Now Les Républicains MP Didier Quentin has written to Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Defence Minister at the time, to ask him what steps he intends to take with his successor Florence Parly to break the silence.

Communist Party senator Pierre Laurent submitted a written question to Parly calling on her to detail what action the authorities are planning to reveal the full facts.

Parly and Le Drian now have two months to provide a reply.

Another MP has also said he intends to press the Defence Minister on the issue during the next question time session in Parliament.

An RFI investigation published in July highlighted a number of discrepancies between the government's official version of a failed hostage-taking operation and several witnesses' accounts that French special forces had chased the abductors, leading somehow to the killing of our colleagues.

Neither the Defence Ministry nor the army chief of staff has yet reacted to the the information unearthed by RFI.

This week in New York,  at the opening of an exhibition of drawings organised at the UN headquarters ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Ghislaine's mother Marie-Solange Poinsot, 89, called for transparency from the French authorities.

She said she is convinced that “the army holds the truth".

"For six years, we have been waiting for the truth," she added. "It will not give them back, but maybe we'll be a little quieter."

The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnès Callamard, who investigated the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said "impunity in France is unacceptable".

"Impunity is what poisons our societies," she said, adding that it was imperative to know "the circumstances of the murder of Ghislaine and Claude, who was present during and after, who failed in his duty and who sought to hide the truth from families".

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