France, Mali will track down RFI journalists' killers, French FM Fabius pledges
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French investigators will track down the murderers of RFI's Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon and ensure they are punished, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius told a ceremony in homage to the pair on Wednesday afternoon. French President François Hollande told the cabinet that the inquiry into their deaths near the northern Mali town of Kidal is "progressing".
An attack on media workers is an attack on the public's right to know and on democracy, Fabius told an audience of several hundred, made up of the victims' families, colleagues from RFI and public figures who had come across the pair during their careers.
The murder of Dupont, a reporter in RFI's Africa service, and Verlon, a sound technician, was also an attack on France and on Mali, he added.
"I want to say to you that RFI, all the press, have our complete support," Fabius declared. "That you do great work, recognised throughout the world, and that this work must continue and I'm sure that is what Ghislaine and Claude would have wanted."
Fabius and Culture Minister Aurélie Filipetti pledged that the "barbaric" murderers would be found and punished.
Earlier Hollande, who sent a message of condolence that RFI boss Marie-Christine Saragosse read out during an emotional address, told a cabinet meeting Wednesday that an investigation into the crime has been set up "speedily" and is "progressing".
"Many Malians, many Africans, didn't known Ghislaine and Claude by sight but I think that their voices were very close to us," Malian Communications Minister Jean-Marie Idrissa Sangaré said at the ceremony. "And this was like the loss of human beings, relations, to us, as to all Africans. A commitment has been made to find these cowards and punish them. We will not allow the voice of the people, the voice of liberty to be silenced."
The ceremony took place at Paris's Musée du Quai Branly, which displays art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas - in part as a tribute to the pair's travels while working for RFI and their affection for Africa.
It was broadcast live by RFI's French-language service.