French journalist Guy-André Kieffer was abducted from an Abidjan supermarket parking lot on 16 April 2004, after going there to meet with Ivorian First Lady Simone Gbagbo’s brother-in-law, Michel Legré, as part of his research into shady practices in the production and export of cocoa.
A few days later, the Kieffer family filed formal complaints in Paris and Abidjan accusing persons unknown of abduction and illegal detention, and Reporters Without Borders formally registered as interested civil party to these complaints. Years of fruitless judicial proceedings followed, in which every new development was invariably followed by a disappointment. Kieffer’s body has still not been found.
Although the Ivorian and French authorities repeatedly promised the Kieffer family and Reporters Without Borders to shed light on the case, there have been no cracks in the pact of silence observed by those suspected of involvement, who were all close to President Laurent Gbagbo. The latter’s replacement by Alassane Ouattara as president in 2011 raised hopes that the investigation would resume in a more effective manner, but despite the assurances that President Ouattara gave to Reporters Without Borders’ secretary-general in May 2014, there have been no developments.
Patrick Ramaël, the French investigating judge who handled the case for ten years, was transferred in September 2013. It is vital that the judge who took it over, Cyril Paquaux, should pursue the investigation and should not close it in the absence of new leads.