Some "failures", a radically opposite management of two reported detainees... The parliamentary commission of inquiry published on Tuesday 30 May its report on the fatal attack on Corsican independence activist Yvan Colonna in Arles prison in March 2022. The report is to be published online during the day, and the president of the committee Jean-Félix Acquaviva (Liot MP for Haute-Corse) and the rapporteur Laurent Marcangeli (MP for Corse-du-Sud, Horizons) will hold a press conference at the Assembly at 17:00.
Yvan Colonna, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of Prefect Claude Érignac in 1998, was violently assaulted on March 2, 2022 in the prison's sports hall by Franck Elong Abé, a 36-year-old radicalized man convicted in a terrorist case. The 61-year-old Corsican independence activist died three weeks later.
71 people heard
During its six months of work - 71 people heard during 37 hearings - the committee was interested in the prison treatment of Franck Elong Abé, the circumstances surrounding the attack and the reasons for maintaining the status of "detainee particularly reported" (DPS) of Yvan Colonna, which prevented his transfer to a Corsican prison.
With a question in the background: why was Franck Elong Abé in ordinary detention and how could he find himself alone with Yvan Colonna for 15 minutes? Because the hearings, including the head of the anti-terrorist prosecutor's office, that of the prison administration, and that of prison intelligence, have highlighted the worrying profile before and during the detention of this man, also classified DPS, who went to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan in the early 2010s and who has multiplied the incidents in prison.
" READ ALSO Clandestine violence, autonomy... One year after the death of Yvan Colonna, the Corsican malaise
To the point that it had not been deemed useful in 2019 to pass the detainee classified as "Islamist terrorist" in radicalization assessment unit (QER) as his "dangerousness" had been "proven" by "his past and his behavior in detention," explained the anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard.
During her hearing, the former director of the prison of Arles Corinne Puglierini had assured that the "behavior" of the prisoner with psychiatric disorders on his arrival in Arles "did not allow an evaluation at the QER". However, she then reported a positive development that justified being granted a coveted position as an "auxiliary" at the end of 2021, to clean up the prison's sports halls.
An astonishing "leniency" according to the commission, and "at the antipodes" of the "excessively rigorous" prison treatment of Yvan Colonna, on which the report should largely return. Corsican elected officials and the families of Yvan Colonna, Pierre Alessandri and Alain Ferrandi (also sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of Prefect Érignac) had been asking for years, in vain, for the lifting of their DPS status which prevented their transfer to Corsica - a purely "political" choice according to them.
'Murderous French state'
The DPS status of Pierre Alessandri and Alain Ferrandi was lifted a few days after the attack on Yvan Colonna. The two men were quickly transferred to a Corsican prison, before being granted semi-liberty in early 2023. The attack had caused a stir and anger in Corsica, with sometimes violent demonstrations all over the island, behind a widely shared slogan of "murderous French state".
An anger motivated in particular by the length of the attack on Yvan Colonna, nearly eight minutes, under the gaze of a surveillance camera, without any supervisor coming to intervene. It was the attacker himself who alerted the guards, explaining that Colonna had "made a discomfort". "Reality can unfortunately exceed fiction," acknowledged the director of the prison administration Laurent Ridel before the commission which was surprised by the strange "alignment of the planets" that allowed the aggression.
The report should highlight the lack of resources, including human resources, and training, including video surveillance, of supervisors, such as that of the General Inspectorate of Justice (IGJ) issued in December and which had led to disciplinary proceedings against the director and a supervisor. As for the "grey areas", such as the motivations of the deadly attack - Franck Elong Abé justified it by a series of "blasphemies" of Yvan Colonna - the commission should hope to see them clarified by the judicial investigation, in which he is indicted for murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise.