Tuesday, February 7

The death of independentista Yvan Colonna shakes the delicate relations between Paris and Corsica


  • After suffering a brutal attack, the nationalist militant convicted of the murder of the prefect Claude Erignac dies

  • The island’s authorities pay tribute to him, while the French make a call for calm

Nearly three weeks after his brutal strangulation, the independentist Corsican Yvan Colonna He has died at the age of 61, his lawyer said Monday night. The death of one of those convicted of the murder of the Prefect Claude Erignac in 1998 has not only generated commotion in corsica, but could also strain the delicate relations between Corsican nationalists and the French authorities. Calm reigned throughout the night between Monday and Tuesday, with a few dozen people concentrated in Bastia and Ajaccio, the main cities of the Mediterranean island.

“The whole truth must be clarified,” French executive spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday morning, calling for “calm” and “dialogue.” “Clearly, there were very serious failures,” he added about the errors of the prison administration that allowed the assault, ultimately fatal, suffered by Colonna. Cameroonian Frank Elong Abé, 36, who fought in the ranks of Islamic fundamentalist organizations in Afghanistan, allegedly strangled Colonna in the prison of arles (South of France) on March 2. The jihadist recognized the responsibility for the events that had left Colonna admitted to a hospital, between life and death.

“Murderer French State”

This aggressionwhose final responsibility they attribute to the french state hard sectors of Corsican nationalism, led to a succession of protests and unrest in Corsica. The situation had apparently calmed down after a visit to the island last week by the interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, who put on the table the granting of a form of autonomy, surely with fewer powers than those of Catalonia or the Basque Country. These negotiations are due to start in April and will last until the end of the year, according to current forecasts. “In this context, the most important thing is that calm be maintained and the negotiations continue,” the president declared. Emmanuel Macronin his first reaction after the death of the independentista.

“Yvan Colonna, Corsican patriot, I live to eternity! We will always be by your side”, tweeted the Femu a Corsica sovereigntist formation, led by the autonomist Gilles Simeon, at the head of the regional council of Corsica. Even more forceful was Sulidarita, the association for the defense of “Corsican political prisoners”: “Disgrace to this murderous French state,” he said on Twitter. Colonna’s sad death threatens to alter the fragile tranquility in Corsica, whose streets have been set on fire with indignation in recent weeks, with protests such as the one on March 13, in which hundreds of Molotov cocktails were thrown and there were 102 wounded77 of them members of the security forces.

Convicted of the murder of a government delegate

Although the unrest in Corsica cannot be attributed solely to the aggression suffered by Colonna, he represented a “martyr” among some Corsican pro-independence sectors. The son of a socialist deputy from the south of France and a Breton nationalist mother, this pastor militated from his youth in the Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC)the local equivalent of ETA, although with a much smaller trail of deaths (about 70) and which laid down its arms in 2014.

In 2003, he was arrested as one of those responsible for the murder of Erignac, shot dead in the back of the head in the center of Bastia while on his way to a classical music concert, which he was to attend with his wife. The same day of his arrest, the then Minister of the Interior, Nicholas Sarkozywho already played the role of sheriff For the benefit of his presidential aspirations, he referred to him as “the murderer” of the prefect, the equivalent of the government delegate.

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Colonna always defended his innocence, but the Justice sentenced him three times to life imprisonment. His long legal process, in which lawyers such as Gilles Simeoni or Eric Dupond-Moretti -current Minister of Justice-, favored the romanticization of his figure in Corsica, especially among new generations who did not know the years of lead.

Along with the autonomy and co-officiality of the Corsican language, one of the main demands of the nationalists is the rapprochement with the island of the “political prisoners”. Following the attack, the French government lifted the status of “Particularly Notorious Detainee” from the three arrested for Erignac’s murder, a first step before their transfer to a Corsican prison. Too late a decision in Colonna’s case.


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