14 November 2013
RFI’s Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were murdered because their kidnappers‘ vehicle broke down. That’s the most likely explanation for our colleagues‘ deaths in northern Mali on 2 November, according to Paris investigator Francois Molins.
The four-wheel drive vehicle used by the four kidnappers was found abandoned outside Kidal, where the RFI reporters were grabbed.
It had a serious oil leak and would have been unable to go over 40 kmph, leading Molins to conclude that the kidnappers had dumped it and, in a panic about being caught by French troops, killed their captives.
Ghislaine Dupont was hit by three bullets, the first of which, to the aorta, killed her, while Claude Verlon, received seven bullets in the back.
Molins confirmed earlier reports that the key suspect is Bayes Ag Bakabo, a Tuareg drug trafficker with links to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), which claimed responsibility for the murders, saying they were a reprisal for the French-led intervention in northern Mali earlier this year.