French hostage held by AQIM possibly killed prior to raid


Prime Minister Francois Fillon has expressed his suspicion that the 78-year-old French hostage, Michel Germaneau, was likely killed two weeks prior to the expiration of the deadline for his execution. Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy had revealed that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s vague demands for the release of AQIM fighters in French prisons were not followed with “the least dialogue with French authorities” in a prisoner swap. AFP reports on Fillon’s statements on Europe 1 Radio:

A French hostage killed by Al-Qaeda’s North African wing may have died nearly two weeks before a failed bid by French forces to rescue him, France’s prime minister said on Tuesday.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said Sunday it had killed Michel Germaneau, 78, in revenge after French and Mauritanian soldiers killed six of its militants in a raid on one of their camps in Mali last week.

Some French officials suggested privately then that the aid worker’s captors may had already killed him weeks before the raid, and on Tuesday Prime Minister Francois Fillon became the first to do so in public.

France had joined the raid by Mauritanian forces against AQIM on Malian soil “because we hoped that Michel Germaneau might be in the camp,” Fillon said on Europe 1 radio.

“I think the hostage’s life was condemned from the day we received this ultimatum on July 12,” he added, however. “It is because of the abnormal, strange nature of this ultimatum and the refusal to enter talks with French authorities that we might think Michel Germaneau was already dead at that time. But that is just a supposition.”

In the May 13 AQIM audio message authenticating the abduction, Michel Germaneau confessed that he had a heart condition, had run out of medicine, and the heat had a debilitating effect on his health. It can speculated that over his 2-month endeavor, the elderly Germaneau died from his own failing health prior to AQIM’s latest 15-day extension demanding a prisoner swap, which could explain the group’s lack of serious engagement in negotiations in this incident that didn’t include intermediaries or direct talks with the French government.

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