Reporters Without Borders reacted cautiously today to yesterday’s Syrian government announcement of an investigation into the circumstances of French TV journalist Gilles Jacquier’s death the previous day in Homs.
A commission of enquiry has been set by the city’s governor, Ghassan Abdel Al-Aal. According to the government news agency Sana, the commission consists of a judge, the head of the city’s criminal security department, two ballistics experts and a representative of France 2, the French TV station that Jacquier worked for.
“We can only be pleased that the Syrian authorities are investigating the case,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But we are circumspect about the commission of enquiry’s composition and real independence. The utmost caution is still necessary. The circumstances of Jacquier’s death must be clarified. Reporters Without Borders will stand beside his family and France 2 during this ordeal.”
Reporters Without Borders had called on the Arab League observers who have been in Syria since 26 December to take charge of the investigation and to establish the origin of the mortar shells that killed the France 2 roving correspondent and seven Syrian civilians.
The recent resignations of some observers suggest that the Syrian government is not being transparent about the way it has been cracking down on the street protests since March 2011. The government is suspected of manipulating their investigations and Reporters Without Borders doubts its desire to allow all the facts to come to light.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has meanwhile opened its own investigation into Jacquier’s death, which it is treating as a case of deliberate homicide, while the French president’s office has indicated that it suspects Syrian government collusion.
French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal has called on the Syrian authorities to provide the French investigators “with all the necessary means to shed light in an independent manner on the circumstances of this death.”
Jacquier’s body was repatriated today to France, where an autopsy is due to be carried out later in the day.