New York, March 20, 2003— The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) mourns the death of Kloueu Gonzreu, 51, a regional correspondent for the state-run news wire service Agence Ivoirienne de Presse.
According to several local reports, Gonzreu’s body was found and identified on Wednesday, March 19, by a team from the Red Cross, where the journalist also worked in his spare time. Gonzreu’s remains were discovered near Toulepleu, a town on the border with Liberia where Liberian mercenaries employed by the Ivoirian government reportedly kidnapped the journalist on January 11.
Gonzreu disappeared less than two weeks after Notre Pays, a pro-government publication, had listed him among suspected rebels in its January 30 edition. Notre Pays accused Gonzreu of “voicing sympathy for the rebellion” in his reports.
Liberian mercenaries have been fighting on both sides of the Ivoirian civil war, which began in September 2002 after disgruntled soldiers from the country’s Muslim north attempted and failed to topple the government, which has the support of southern Christian and animist populations.
“We are greatly saddened by the death of our colleague Gonzreu,” said CPJ acting director Joel Simon. “We reiterate our call to all parties to Ivory Coast’s conflict to respect the rights of journalists to report the news freely and to refrain from targeting them for doing so.”