Several members of the family of Yvan Colonna, who died as a result of an attack in prison, sued the State. They believe that the French state is “legally responsible for his death”.
The family of Yvan Colonna, the Corsican independence activist sentenced for the assassination of the prefect Erignac, took action against the State on April 6 before the Marseille administrative court for his fatal attack by a fellow prisoner on March 2 in the prison. from Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône).
Yvan Colonna’s parents, wife, brother, sister and two children “consider that the prison administration is legally responsible for his death”, explained Me Patrice Spinosi, one of the family’s lawyers, in a statement to AFP.
“The various elements of the investigation reported by the press and the hearings of parliamentarians only fueled the suspicion that the attack suffered by Yvan Colonna is directly linked to a series of administrative dysfunctions”, writes the ‘attorney.
Several hundred thousand euros in compensation requested
He recalls that article 44 of the law of November 24, 2009 provides that “the prison administration must ensure that each detained person has effective protection of his physical integrity in all collective and individual places”.
“The State is thus required to compensate the heirs of a prisoner who died as a result of violence committed within a penitentiary establishment by another detainee”, observes Maître Spinosi, who told AFP that he was claiming 200 000 euros in damages for Yvan Colonna and 100,000 euros for each member of his family.
“An independent and impartial tribunal is now responsible for judging the links between the inaction of the State and the death of Yvan Colonna”, continues the lawyer, according to whom “the administrative tribunal will have to decide by the end of the year on this request”.
The 61-year-old nationalist activist had been very seriously injured on March 2 by a radicalized fellow prisoner, Franck Elong Abé, a 36-year-old Cameroonian presented as a “jihadist”, who had attacked him in the sports hall of the jail. Yvan Colonna had been the victim of “strangulation with his bare hands and then suffocation” with a plastic bag, said Tarascon prosecutor Laurent Gumbau.
Yvan Colonna, sentenced three times to life for the assassination of the prefect Claude Erignac, shot several times in the head in 1998 in Ajaccio, died on March 21 at the Marseille hospital where he had been transferred and where he remained permanently in a coma.
Blasphemy at the origin of the crime?
According to several sources, the aggressor of Yvan Colonna justified his act by the fact that the Corsican militant would have blasphemed and “spoke badly of the prophet”. A version, however, deemed “not very credible” by the director of the central house of Arles, Marc Ollier, who estimated, during a hearing before the law commission of the National Assembly, that the murderer “wanted to pay himself something ‘one known’.
This attack provoked an explosion of anger throughout Corsica, with sometimes violent demonstrations. Anger motivated in particular by the length of the attack on Yvan Colonna, almost eight minutes, under the gaze of a surveillance camera, without any supervisor intervening. It was the attacker himself who had alerted the guards, explaining that Yvan Colonna had “felt unwell”.
The director of the central house of Arles and the director of the penitentiary administration Laurent Ridel assured during their hearing at the National Assembly that a single agent could “not see” the 49 cameras of the wing concerned.