The Corsican independence activist, savagely attacked by an Islamist detainee on March 2, succumbed on Monday. The emotion is already immense in Corsica. Lets see What happened to Yvan Colonna.
What happened to Yvan Colonna?
Yvan Colonna did not survive the savage attack he suffered on March 2 in a sports hall in Arles prison (Bouches-du-Rhône). He died this Monday at the end of the day at the Timone hospital in Marseille where he had been transferred a few hours after being discovered in cardiorespiratory arrest by the prison guards.
Plunged into a coma by doctors with a vital prognosis, Yvan Colonna, 61, could no longer be saved. His assailant, another inmate, radicalized, had since been indicted for “attempted murder”, a crime which will therefore be reclassified as “murder” in the hours to come.
From this Monday evening, the family and relatives of the deceased did not wish to make any comment. “It’s a time of mourning and meditation, not speaking out”, confirmed in the evening a close friend of the Colonna family.
“I do not forget Mr. Erignac who died far from home, but not after 20 years of slow torture in addition to prison, reacted for his part to the Parisian Christiane Muretti, mother of Nicolas Montigny, assassinated nationalist activist in September 2001 in Bastia. The attachment we have to our land is visceral and this is one of the (unacknowledged) reasons for the refusal of rapprochement. Yvan died far from his land, without for almost 20 years having been able to breathe or see our Corsica again. To his condemnation, to the years of prison deserved or not, to the abominable circumstances of his aggression, is added the ultimate exile. (What happened to Yvan Colonna)
An assassination he has always denied
The death of the “shepherd of Cargèse” is also that of the assassin of the prefect Erignac, shot dead in a street in Ajaccio (Corse-du-Sud) on February 6, 1998. Yvan Colonna had been detained for this crime since July 2003 following his arrest in an isolated sheepfold in Corse-du-Sud, after 1503 days of a run as incredible as political and media.
First implicated by accomplices members of the commando, Yvan Colonna has always denied being the one who held the weapon that evening and who shot the prefect in the back. For nearly 19 years, he had been serving his sentence with a particularly reported prisoner status (DPS), three letters which have been at the heart of the controversy for three weeks.
This status, which targets prisoners who are dangerous and/or who have shown a desire to escape – which has never been the case – theoretically implies isolation and special monitoring by the prison administration. However, on March 2, Yvan Colonna found himself alone in a gym with another detainee, also DPS, imprisoned for acts of terrorism and radicalized for a long time.
It took more than four minutes for supervisors to intervene. while Yvan Colonna was beaten and strangled. The extremely violent attack was filmed by CCTV cameras. An attack of incredible, sudden brutality, while Yvan Colonna was doing push-ups. His alleged killer would later have explained to investigators that he attacked the one with whom he shared chess games after a heated discussion on religion, even invoking blasphemy.
Burning of Corsica
This attack coincided with a first controversy born a few weeks earlier concerning two of his accomplices in the Erignac commando, Pierre Alessandri and Pascal Ferrandi, who had been trying for months to benefit from a measure of reconciliation to finish their sentences at home. Borgo stop (Haute-Corse). Reconciliation in accordance with the law but made impossible by the authorities because of their DPS status “incompatible” with their placement in a remand center not equipped to accommodate such prisoners. (What happened to Yvan Colonna)
This pebble in the government’s shoe turned into a storm when the news of Yvan Colonna’s attack spread. In a few hours, the whole of Corsica was set ablaze with particularly violent demonstrations in Corte, Ajaccio and Bastia. A violence stirred up by veterans of nationalism and clandestine action and operated on the ground by young people, most of whom were not born when the prefect Erignac was assassinated.
Several times, the family of Yvan Colonna appealed for calm, but the situation, in reality constantly flammable on the island, could only degenerate. Last week, on the eve of his visit to Corsica and the day after serious incidents in Bastia, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin put the question of the island’s autonomy back on the table . A political way to circumscribe the fire in the middle of the presidential campaign.
Calls to demonstrate already launched
The death of Yvan Colonna raises fears of renewed tension. For years, it was impossible to travel in Corsica without reading “liberta per Yvan” (freedom for Yvan) tagged everywhere. But over time, without disappearing from local collective memory, the image had faded somewhat. The FLNC in all its components had laid down their arms, the autonomists and the separatists had been elected together in the assembly of Corsica, the “Corsican question”, which has almost never spared a government, seemed settled.
But in recent months, with the approach of the presidential campaign and due to internal dissension, the tension had risen a notch . The erratic management of the rapprochement of the prisoners and the hard to justify aggression of Yvan Colonna behind the walls of a prison constituted the two sparks.
Pierre Alessandri and Pascal Ferrandi will be closer to Borgo very quickly. Yvan Colonna’s sentence had been suspended while he was in a coma. Measures that will probably not be enough to appease anger. This Monday evening, calls to demonstrate in front of high schools were already circulating.
News Analyst and Content manager.