Yvan Colonna’s family filed a lawsuit against the state before the Marseille Administrative Court on Wednesday. The Corsican nationalist activist convicted of the assassination of Prefect Erignac died after being attacked by a fellow prisoner in Arles prison (Bouches-du-Rhône) on March 2. The Parents, Wife, Brother, Sister and Two Children of Yvan Colonna”consider that the prison administration is legally responsible his death”, explained Me Patrice Spinosi, one of the family lawyers, in a press release.
“The various elements of the investigation reported by the press and the hearings of parliamentarians have only fueled suspicions that the attack suffered by Yvan Colonna was directly linked to a number of administrative troubles, writes the lawyer. He recalls that Article 44 of the law of 24 November 2009 provides for this “Prison administration must ensure that every detainee has effective protections for their physical integrity in all collective and individual locations.”
“The state is therefore obliged to compensate the heirs of a prisoner who died as a result of violence committed by another incarcerated person within a prison facility”, observes Mr Spinosi, who told AFP to complain 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 adjudicating the links between state inaction and the death of Yvan Colonna,” the lawyer continues, according to whom “The administrative court must decide on this application by the end of the year”.
Anger at Corsica
The 61-year-old nationalist activist had been seriously injured by a radicalized fellow prisoner, Franck Elong Abé, a 36-year-old Cameroonian presented as a “jihadist”, who attacked him in the prison gym. Yvan Colonna had been a victim “a strangling with bare hands, then an asphyxiation” with a plastic bag, according to Tarascon prosecutor Laurent Gumbau.
According to several sources, Yvan Colonna’s attacker justified his act by saying that the Corsican activist allegedly blasphemed and blasphemed “spoken ill of the Prophet”. However, one version judges “incredible” by the director of the Central House of Arles, Marc Ollier, who at a hearing before the National Assembly’s Legal Commission estimated the killer “wanted to pay someone famous”.
This attack sparked an explosion of anger across Corsica, with sometimes violent demonstrations. Anger motivated in particular by the length of the attack on Yvan Colonna, almost eight minutes, under surveillance camera view, without any intervention by a superior. It was the attacker himself who alerted the guards and stated that Colonna had done so “feels uncomfortable”. The Director of the Central House of Arles and the Director of the Penitentiary Administration Laurent Ridel assured during their hearing in the National Assembly that a single agent could not do this “not see” the 49 cameras of the affected wing.
Yvan Colonna, sentenced to life imprisonment three times for the assassination of Prefect Claude Erignac, shot multiple times in the head in Ajaccio in 1998, died on March 21 in Marseille hospital, where he had been transferred and where he was in a permanent coma.