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Michel Germaneau/French hostage death

Michel Germaneau/French hostage death

Published on August 2, 2010
Statement by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic

Paris, July 26, 2010
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Responsibility has just been claimed for the murder of our compatriot Michel Germaneau, kidnapped in Niger on April 20, 2010 by a group of terrorists from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and held hostage. I condemn this barbarous act, this heinous act which has just claimed an innocent victim, who was devoting his time to helping local people. This death in tragic circumstances demonstrates, were it necessary, that we are dealing with people who have no respect for human life. They murdered in cold blood a 78-year-old, who was ill and had been refused by them the medication he needed.

I pay my respects to the memory of Michel Germaneau, he was a good man.

I want to express to his loved-ones my and the French people’s sadness and sympathy.

Since July 12, Michel Germaneau had been under an ultimatum which was in fact no more than the announcement of a planned murder. Indeed, this ultimatum was issued by a group which on May 31, 2010 had murdered a hapless British hostage kidnapped in similar circumstances, and it was never preceded by any dialogue whatsoever with the French or local authorities. This is the opposite of what happened with Pierre Camatte (1), for whom the hostage-takers had agreed to enter into discussions.

Since Michel Germaneau’s kidnapping, all resources had been mobilized to try and secure his release.

On July12, in a television broadcast, I had expressed to you my burning concern over his fate.

No proof of him being alive had been obtained since May.

In the framework of France’s cooperation with the Sahel countries threatened by al-Qaeda, we agreed for French forces to provide some support to Mauritania who, informed of an imminent attack on her soil by a terrorist group, had decided to take preventive action against it. The group’s base camp, which was destroyed, could have been Michel Germaneau’s place of detention.

Convinced as we were that Michel Germaneau was condemned to a certain death, we had a duty to carry out the attempt to rescue him from his jailors.

Unfortunately, Michel Germaneau was not there. Today, as had been forecast in the July 12, ultimatum, he is dead.

My dear compatriots, far from weakening our resolve, this death must strengthen it. I have asked the Prime Minister to convene a meeting today with the chairmen of the National Assembly and Senate foreign affairs committees. I have asked Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to visit Bamako, Niamey and Nouakchott this evening to look with the local authorities and our ambassadors at the security measures to be taken for our nationals. As I had done following Pierre Camatte’s release, we urge our compatriots to refrain absolutely from any travel to the Sahel region.

We are more than ever determined to combat every form of terrorism and support the countries which have the courage to fight this barbarous terrorism. This fight concerns us all, our security is at stake. My dear compatriots, the crime committed against Michel Germaneau will not go unpunished./.

(1) Frenchman Pierre Camatte was kidnapped in Mali by the AQIM organization in November 2009 and released three months later.

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