Yvan Colonna is a Corsican nationalist convicted of assassinating the prefect of Corsica, Claude Érignac on 6 February 1998. He is the son of Jean-Hugues Colonna, a former deputy (MP) of the French socialist party in the Alpes-Maritimes constituency and a recipient of the French Légion d'honneur.
He was born in Ajaccio, Corse-du-Sud in 1960. In 1975, his family moved to Nice. After he completed his Baccalauréat (French high school), he studied to become a teacher of physical education and sports. He broke off his studies in 1981, returning to Corsica, and moved to Cargèse where his brother later opened a beach bar. There, he took up goat herding, a common occupation in Corsica. He joined a nationalist militant faction close to the FLNC, and is suspected to have been implicated in several terrorist acts in the region. He is notably suspected to have taken part in an attack at the police station in Pietrosella.
Role in the assassination of Prefect Érignac
On the 6th of February 1998 at 9:05 pm, the prefect of Corsica, Claude Érignac, was assassinated as he exited a theatre onto rue Colonna-d'Ornano in Ajaccio. He was shot receiving three 9 mm bullets in the neck, and died shortly thereafter. The weapon was shown to be one of the weapons stolen in the attack on the Gendarmerie Nationale station in Pietrosella on 6 September 1997.
An enquiry followed, which resulted in the arrest of several militants. Interrogation pointed towards Yvan Colonna as the culprit. Police went to question him, but he had already fled. This sparked the biggest manhunt in French history, and Colonna was thought to have left the country, possibly for South America. However, an infrared camera set in the mountains of Corsica, near Vico as surveillance of a "bergerie", a traditional Corsican stone hut, yielded evidence that Colonna was hiding here. He was arrested on the 4th of June 2003.
Charged with assassination and being a member of a terrorist organisation, he was arraigned before the court of special cases in Paris from 12 November 2007. The court was in session until 12 December 2007. During his internment awaiting trial, he has repeatedly claimed innocence, and that he is the victim of unfair press coverage, convicting him before trial. On 13 December 2007, Colonna was pronounced guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He has since appealed.
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