DUPONT/VERLON ANNIVERSARY

Seven years after the deaths of RFI's Dupont and Verlon in Mali, investigation is slow

RFI in mourning. Our dead colleagues Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon.
RFI in mourning. Our dead colleagues Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon. RFI

On 2 November 2013, RFI journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were kidnapped and killed in the town of Kidal, in northern Mali, where they were working. Seven years later, at least one of the masterminds behind that crime, and two suspected kidnappers, are still on the run.

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Exactly seven years ago, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, journalist and technician at Radio France International, were kidnapped and assassinated in the town of Kidal, while they were reporting in northern Mali. Their killing was subsequently claimed by the terrorist group, Al Qaida in Islamic North Africa (Aqmi).

Last year, RFI reported that members of the French special forces, present in Mali to combat Islamic extremism, had attempted to chase the kidnappers in the immediate aftermath of the capture of the two journalists. That information has since been confirmed by a French military officer. But the unit involved appears to have followed the wrong vehicle.

The officer in question has testified to an investigating judge. He was in command of the group which discovered the bodies of the two journalists.

Part played by French soldiers?

He has also confirmed that as many as ten French soldiers were present in Kidal on the day of the assassination, saying that they were poorly equipped and barely able to ensure their own safety. They were on a mission to investigate the terrain, and to meet local Touraeg leaders.

It seems that at least 20 crucial minutes were lost between the raising of the alert by the special forces unit, and the reaction of regular troops, described by bthe army as "the only soldiers equipped to intervene".

The mother of Ghislaine Dupont, Marie-Solange Poinsot, now 90 years of age, says the French army is hiding important facts, is lying, allowing evidence to leak out. She says the whole affair leaves a bitter taste.

Claude Verlon's daughter, Apolline Verlon, has written to both President Emmanuel Macron and First Lady, Brigitte Macron, asking for the truth to be told, so that the bereaved families can finally begin the process of mourning.

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