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Ivory Coast suspect in disappearance of western journalist dies

Michel Legre was arrested in May 2004 over the kidnapping and killing of Guy-Andre Kieffer, who was writing about corruption in the cocoa industry

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The brother-in-law of Ivory Coast’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo who was a leading suspect in the disappearance of a French-Canadian journalist died Sunday, a source close to the country’s former president told AFP.

Michel Legre was arrested in May 2004 over the kidnapping and killing of Guy-Andre Kieffer, a specialist in the cocoa industry who was writing about corruption and was last seen in a car park in Abidjan in April 2004 along with Legre. He was subsequently released without charge.

“(Legre) unfortunately died this morning. I don’t know anything more,” said Franck Anderson Kouassi, an ally of former president Laurent Gbagbo and representative of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party.

“He died at his home,” added a journalist close to the FPI, citing acquaintances of Legre.

Legre was also put under investigation by a French judge in October 2004 over Kieffer’s disappearance.

A witness in the trial of Simone Gbagbo, who has been on trial since May 31 for alleged crimes against humanity committed during a post-electoral crisis in 2010-11, recently claimed that Kieffer was “executed and his body burnt” on the orders of the former first lady.

Simone Gbagbo is already serving a 20-year jail term after she was convicted last year of state security offenses committed during the five months of conflict that followed the election that claimed more than 3,000 lives.