Guy-André Kieffer (born 25 May 1949) is a journalist of dual French and Canadian nationality who worked in West Africa generally, and in Côte d'Ivoire specifically. On April 16, 2004, he was kidnapped from an Abidjan parking lot and has not been seen since. In early 2012 remains suspected to belong to Kieffer were found in the department of Issia, in the west of Côte d'Ivoire.
Kieffer was born and raised in France; his family lives in the region of Rhône-Alpes. He studied law in Montreal, and while there married a Canadian woman and obtained Canadian nationality; this marriage produced a son Sébastien-Cédric but later resulted in divorce. Kieffer was married to Osange Silou-Kieffer; they have a daughter Canelle.
From 1984 to 2002, Kieffer worked for the French financial newspaper La Tribune. Following this he worked in West Africa for a number of years, and wrote articles concerning Political corruption in African governments for several different publications.
Kidnapping and probable murder
At approximately 1 p.m. on April 16, 2004, Kieffer was kidnapped in the parking lot of a shopping center in Abidjan. At the time he was working on a story about money laundering and illegal currency transfers allegedly involving the Ivorian government.
He had been drawn there by someone claiming to have leads on a government corruption story he was assembling. He has never been seen since, nor has a corpse been found. To this day his fate and the identity of his kidnappers remains a mystery.
In a 2006 interview regarding her book Bitter Chocolate, CBC journalist Carol Off claimed that Kieffer's disappearance and probable murder was related to his investigation of the shady practices involving the Ivorian government and the cocoa industry. She had travelled to Côte d'Ivoire to research her book, and claimed that upon her arrival in the country Canadian embassy officials had given her a stern warning regarding Kieffer:
- SU: "Did you ever find yourself in danger like he [Kieffer] did?"
- Off: "I had a meeting with the Canadian Embassy and they said "you shouldn't be here asking questions about cocoa. It's very dangerous. But if you have to, at the very least, don't ask any questions about Guy-André Kieffer. Whatever you do, don't even mention his name."
- "Maybe that's good advice, but wherever I went they would raise his name and in ways that I realized weren't even veiled threats. I would be speaking with somebody in the business and they would say, 'You know what happened to the last person who asked these questions? I wonder where he is now?' They would just look at you. You got the message. I quickly realized how incredibly sinister and evil this story really was."
In May 2004, civil proceedings concerning Kieffer's disappearance were launched in France by Kieffer's family and Reporters sans frontières. The French magistrate charged with the case was sent to Abidjan and there interrogated Michel Legré, a brother-in-law of the wife of Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who was allegedly the last person to see Kieffer alive. Legré provided a list of names of influential Ivorians who he alleged were involved in Kieffer's kidnapping.
This list of names was subsequently published in some Ivorian newspapers. In 2004, Legré was arrested in Abidjan by Ivorian police and charged with complicity in a kidnapping, illegal imprisonment and murder. He was also charged with defamation for naming the individuals on the list. Legré was provisionally released in 2005 and has since fled the country – or is in an unknown location.
Subsequently, the French magistrate was not granted access to all of the persons named by Legré. The magistrate questioned Legré himself on 21 October 2004, and on 13 December 2004 requested that Legré be temporarily moved to France, as he felt Legré was unable to speak freely in his Ivorian prison. However, the French government initially did not aid in this request, for which they were denounced by Kieffer's wife Osange Silou-Kieffer.
On August 23, 2007, French president Nicolas Sarkozy met with Kieffer's wife Osange Silou-Kieffer in Paris, and expressed his determination to aid in the case. Silou-Kieffer claimed that Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac had never answered her request for a meeting.
In July 2008 Simone Gbagbo – First Lady of Côte d'Ivoire – was formally called for questioning by a French investigative judge, examining the April 2004 disappearance and presumed death of Kieffer. Speculation has surrounded the Ivorian first family, as Michel Legré is the brother-in-law of Simone Gbagbo. French judicial officials have arrested and are investigating Jean-Tony Oulaï, a former member of the Ivorian Secret Services, whom they detained in Paris in 2006. Jean-Tony Oulaï's driver at the time Berte Seydou, as well as Mr Kieffer's brother, have alleged that Ms. Gbagbo and former Ivorian Minister of Planning and Development Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabré have knowledge of the events surrounding Mr Kieffer's death, and that Oulaï is responsible.
- "Biographie" (in French). Vérité pour Guy-André Kieffer. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- "Sarkozy to help solve mystery of Canadian journalist missing in Ivory Coast". The Globe and Mail. August 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- "French president takes up case of missing French-Canadian reporter". CBC News. August 23, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- "Canadian journalist's remains possibly found in Ivory Coast". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
- Galloway, Gloria (November 17, 2004). "Missing Canadian journalist honoured". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- "Côte d'Ivoire : One year after his kidnapping, the fate of Guy-André Keiffer remains unknown". Amnesty International. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 2005-04-15.
- "Ottawa urged to press case of missing journalist". The Globe and Mail. June 5, 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-08-23.
- "Chocolate a product of child slavery, says CBC broadcaster". Revolutionary Speaker Series, University of Alberta Student's Union. November 11, 2006. Archived from the original on May 23, 2008. Retrieved 2007-08-25.
- Où est Michel Legré ? 16 septembre 2007, Jeune Afrique.
- Affaire Kieffer: Simone Gbagbo et un ministre convoqués chez le juge. 8 July 2008 - AFP.
- Jean-Tony Oulaï : plus qu’un témoin. 5 février 2006 - par CHRISTOPHE BOISBOUVIER, POUR J.A.I.
- Sur la piste des ravisseurs - 3 septembre 2006 - par CHRISTOPHE BOISBOUVIER, Jeune Afrique. L'homme qui en savait trop. 24 octobre 2004 - par CHRISTOPHE BOISBOUVIER, Jeune Afrique. Simone Gbagbo. 26 décembre 2004 - par CHEIKH YÉRIM SECK, Jeune Afrique. Incontrôlable affaire Kieffer. 27 juin 2004 - par CHRISTOPHE BOISBOUVIER, Jeune Afrique. Ivory Coast first lady to be questioned over missing Canadian journalist. Matthieu Rabechault, AFP, July 8, 2008.
- Vérité pour Guy-André Kieffer (in French), site profiling Kieffer's case
- Kieffer’s case (in French), on Ménilmontant, mais oui madame.... This blog is written by a former French journalist who used to work with Kieffer in the 1980s about French files on finance and political fields, with links with fiscal paradises. Blog only in French.