Reporters Without Borders, support committees and families of Frédéric Nérac and Guy-André Kieffer rallied today in the place de la Nation in Paris under portraits of the two missing journalists, four years to the day from the disappearance of Nérac, to appeal to candidates in the French presidential elections to seek the truth about their fate.
Reporters Without Borders, the support committees and families of missing journalists Guy-André Kieffer and Frédéric Nérac met today in Paris four years after the disappearance in Iraq of Nérac to challenge candidates to the French presidential elections to take up their cases. The supporters, who gathered at the place de la Nation under portraits of the missing men, urged the candidates to commit themselves to “work tirelessly for the truth to be established” about the fate of the two journalists. Frédéric Nérac was working for British independent television ITN when he disappeared in the south of Iraq on 22 March 2003. Freelance journalist Guy-André Kieffer, disappeared in Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire on 16 April 2004. “So long as it cannot be said with certainty what happened to Frédéric Nérac and Guy-André Kieffer, we must keep campaigning for the truth to come out. It requires commitment at the highest level of the state to secure concrete results,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. Disappearance of Frédéric Nérac On 22 March 2003, as US troops swung round Basra to quickly reach the capital Baghdad, 550 kilometres away, two vehicles carrying ITN staff were caught in the crossfire between Iraqi gunners and American forces to the east of the city, near the Sunni enclave of al-Zubeir. In the first vehicle, Belgian cameraman Daniel Demoustier was injured while veteran British reporter Terry Lloyd was shot dead. A British official investigation revealed that the journalist was first wounded in the back by Iraqi militia and then killed with a bullet to the head, fired by US troops after he was evacuated to a minibus to be treated. The US authorities have so far refused to allow the soldiers from Delta Company who were at the scene to answer to British justice, claiming that the rules of engagement had been observed. The names of the 16 American soldiers implicated in the shooting were revealed by ITN on 19 March 2007. The second ITN vehicle, in which French cameraman Frédéric Nérac and Lebanese interpreter Hussein Othman were travelling, had turned back to escape the shooting when they were intercepted by Iraqi fighters in a machine-gun armed pick-up truck. The two men then mysteriously disappeared. Five investigations were carried out by various independent sources including ITN. Several eye-witnesses said that Iraqi fighters put Nérac and Othman into their vehicle. One of the men apparently drove the ITN vehicle to the offices of the Baath Party in al-Zubeir, where Nérac's cross-border accreditation was later found. Analysis of the Iraqi pick-up was inconclusive due to the fact it was very badly charred. Four years later, the body of Frédéric Nerac has still not been found. It remains unclear whether the journalist was caught in the crossfire or was taken to the Baath Party headquarters and killed there. Disappearance of Guy-André Kieffer Freelance journalist, Guy-André Kieffer, a dual French and Canadian national, who previously worked for French business publication La Tribune and specialised in raw materials, was abducted from the car park of an Abidjan supermarket, at around 1pm on 16 April 2004 after falling into a trap set for him by a member of President Laurent Gbagbo's entourage. Since then neither his family nor friends have had any news of him. Investigations carried out by two French judges revealed that the journalist was investigating embezzlement of funds within the coffee and cocoa industry in Cote d'Ivoire. He had disturbed the government by revealing its secret use of use of dirty money to fuel war. Michel Legré, brother in law of the wife of President Gbagbo and the last person to have seen the journalist alive, along with a captain in the Ivorian army believed to have led the gang of kidnappers, have been questioned in the case, but the investigation stalled because of government obstruction and a lack of political will in France.