The Corsican independence fighter, sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the prefect of Erignac in 1998, died on Monday after a brutal attack in prison on March 2 by an imprisoned jihadist.
After twenty days in a coma, Yvan Colonna died today in a Marseille hospital, according to a lawyer for the family of a man who served a long term in the central house in Arles for the murder of the prefect Erignac, on February 6, 1998. Ivan Colonna has been in a coma since March 2 following the fatal attack by Frank Elong-Abe, an Islamist terrorist prisoner known for his extreme danger but nonetheless benefiting from a position as a sports assistant in the central house. The case was immediately taken over by the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office, which ruled in favor of qualifying the attack.
In addition to this forensic investigation, there is an examination by the General Inspectorate of Justice under the terms of the drama, which finds its source in the prison department of the protagonists, both under the “status of specially registered prisoners.” Finally, the Judicial Commission opened a cycle of hearings after this assassination attempt.
The drama produced the effect of a triple political explosion. Indeed, in the days following the attack, Corsica burned for more than ten days, leading to violent clashes with the police, forcing Prime Minister Jean Castex to concede on the issue of autonomy for the Isle of Beauty. Gérald Darmanin arrived there on 17 March for a three-day visit to initiate the first discussions on this sensitive issue with Corsican representatives, starting with Gilles Simeoni, President of the Executive Council of Corsica, to ease tensions on the island. At the end of the agreement between the state and the Corsican legation, the government undertook to start negotiations by forced march from the first week of April in order to determine the scope of this future autonomy. He also promised to reach an agreement by the end of 2022.
But the death of Ivan Colonna also raised the question of the status of the Corsican prisoners and, in particular, the members of the Erignac commando, whose protagonists are Alain Ferrandi and Pierre Alessandri. Since 2018, the latter have been asking for their status as “specially marked prisoners” to be removed in order to take advantage of a transfer to Borgo prison and a change in sentence. Requests for which they were systematically denied until the day after the tragedy, since their status was removed on March 10. Ivan Colonna has adhered to the same procedural logic since July 2021, when his twenty-year sentence ended. However, as MPs Bruno Kestel and François Pupponi, who last saw the activist in custody, recalled during the first hearing before the Legal Commission last Wednesday, “Iván Colonna refused to appear before the National Evaluation Commission due to the rejected demands of prisoners Ferrandi and Alessandri. If he had gone to this hearing, he would not have died under the blows of this Islamist terrorist.”they recalled.
However, justice on Thursday suspended the sentencing “on medical grounds” at the request of his lawyers. The law provides that a prison sentence can be deferred in case of life prognosis.
But the death of Ivan Colonna revives another heated debate about how to deal with detained Islamist terrorists in prisons, about the reality of watching them, about discovering their danger and the severity of their detention. The topic is all the more acute because French prisons hold 500 convicted of Islamist terrorism and almost as many convicted of common law for radical views. Last night, Corsica held its breath, giving way to mourning.