5 Oct 2013
Madagascar: Three people burned on a pyre
Note: This is my translation of the article “Nosy-Be : Un Français, un Italien et un Malgache jetés au bûcher,”, which appeared on the website of the newspaper L’Express de Madagascar on Friday, 4 October 2013.
Nosy-Be: A French person, an Italian, and a Madagascan thrown onto a pyre
Suspected of involvement in organ-trafficking, three individuals were showered with blows and then thrown onto a fire. A mob unleashed itself on them after a child’s body, with some organs missing, was discovered.
Death on a pyre for three presumed organ-traffickers:
Yesterday, at around 07:00 am, Gianfalla Roberto, an Italian expat with French citizenship, and his alleged accomplice, a French man who answered to the name of Thierry, were tortured before being thrown onto a bonfire on a beach, near the Cratère jetty, on the eastern side of the island of Nosy Be. At nightfall, around 18:00, a certain Zaidou, a native of Madagascar’s “perfumed isle” [i.e. Nosy Be], suspected of being in cahoots with these two Europeans, suffered the same atavistic sentence. After being apprehended by the fokonolona in the Ambatozavavy suburb, he was brought to the town center, in the Daresalama neighborhood. After being lynched, he perished in the ordeal of the flames.
What brought this explosive situation about was the kidnapping of Mohamad, an eight-year-old boy. Lacking certain organs, the corpse of this child, who’d been missing since [last] Friday, washed up on shore Wednesday at around 23:30 at Madirokely, not far from the Cratère jetty, where a boat belonging to the two foreign expats, the victims of vigilante mob justice, had been anchored for a week.
Several hours earlier, an angry mob had rushed over to the boat to inspect it, due to rumors circulating that the child’s body might be hidden on board, [and the mob] looked all around the area. Since their arrival, the French man and the Italian, who, according to the latest information, had not registered themselves with the Italian consul on the island, had been seen several times moving heavy ice chests around.
On Wednesday evening, after having inspected the boat, the fokonolona went over it from stem to stern without laying hand on any sort of evidence of wrongdoing. The people who surrounded the boat even had a look in the refrigerator, but it was empty, according to testimony from Homady, a paterfamilias who lives in the area. According to him, a group of local people who had taken over the area reached a path by which the young boy had been thrown into the sea. Washed back up onto shore by the waves, the boy’s corpse, whose genitals, nose, eyes, and ears had been cut off, was frozen when it was discovered. Suspicions immediately fell upon the two foreigners again. Interrogated by the mob, one of the boat watchmen brought the mob, at around 05:00 am, to his bosses’ hotel. Having fallen into the clutches of the [vigilantes], the two suspects were soon beaten up. They’re said to have confessed, and to have denounced their accomplices, who were staying in Andilina, some 20 km from the town, before they were thrown onto the fire.
Forced to hole up in their camp after seven of their houses had been burned down, along with a truck, the night before, the forces of order did not intervene in these scenes of desolation. Accused of having hidden Zaidou,
they endured the wrath of the population. “Two deceased and ten injured people were admitted into our care during these clashes,” states Julien Randrianarison, head doctor of the Nosy Be hospital. Among the fokonolona, rumors circulated that Zaidou had agreed to sacrifice his two sons in the alleged [organ] trafficking, then changed his mind about it. Strangely, Mohamad, his brother Nono’s son, was kidnapped.
Concerned for the safety of French expats, the Quai d’Orsay [the French foreign ministry] announced on its website yesterday that it is counting on the Madagascan judiciary to shed light on the exact circumstances of these events. It also recommended to those [French people] present in Nosy Be to stay where they are. The French school on the island is temporarily closed. “Three text-message advisories have already been sent to our countrymen on the island. Moreover, it’s recommended that those planning to go there delay their visit,” announced Jérôme Bresson, the minister-counselor of the French Embassy in Madagascar. According to the French ministry’s website, almost 700 French people are registered in the “perfumed isle” [i.e. Nosy Be].
Yesterday in the late afternoon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ulrich Andriantiana and his counterpart in the Ministry of the Interior Florent Rakotoarisoa traveled to Nosy Be, accompanied by Division General Ranrianazary, Secretary of State in the national police force. “Our priority is first of all to reestablish order; next will follow investigations into the homicides and the acts of vandalism that have been committed,” says the number-one of the police force.
Due to this unrest, a curfew has been decreed in the district from 21:00 to 04:00 am.
Seth Andriamarohasina and Vonjy Radasimalala
Friday, 04 October 2013