No official ceremony, January 7, in the ten years that Vincent Delory and Antoine de Léocour died, the two French hostages who were kidnapped in Niamey, Niger, and killed in northern Mali during the French military intervention against their captive jihadists. For ten years, the two families have wanted to know why the French authorities at the time decided this armed interference and risk the lives of the two hostages. Annabelle Delory is the sister of one of the two victims. She answers questions from Christophe Boisbouvier.
RFI: Ten years after the death of Antoine de Léocour and your brother, Vincent Delory, the pain begins to subside or not?
Annabelle delory: You can not really say that. It is different, but the absence is still there and the feeling of injustice is even more present. There was a decision to sacrifice them at the time, and ten years later it is considered just pieces, security damage in a military intervention that was successful. And no one would ever admit that there was a decision to sacrifice that had been made and that is very complicated.
On January 7, 2011, Antoine and Vincent were kidnapped from a restaurant in Niamey. The French army chases the kidnappers. And the next day, January 8, Antoine and Vincent died during their rescue attempt. Why do you say today that they were sacrificed?
Because we sent helicopters shooting at cars without knowing who was in them. We gave them such a small chance that it meant sacrificing them. When we see the violence at the intervention, we had access to the footage, we had access to the film from the operation, we can not say that we tried to save them. We tried to stop the convoy, and in any case, this is the order that the soldiers had been given to stop the convoy at all costs. The order they received was not to bring the hostages back.
Antoine de Léocour appears to have been shot in the head by one of the al-Qaeda terrorists in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi). On the other hand, there are many questions about the circumstances of your brother Vincent Delory’s death.?
Yes. Presumably, they let him burn in the attack when the vehicle he was in caught fire. Whatever happens, it was the intervention that killed Vincent. Why were there several tens of thousands of minutes that passed from the vehicle came on fire and when the soldiers arrived nearby? At one point, we see in the reports that they were a few feet from the vehicle and that they did not intervene. And on that we never had an explanation for why.
You say that Antoine and Vincent were sacrificed because French politicians wanted to send a message to terrorists. What a message?
They wanted to show that France is not giving in to terrorism. We can see behind this that this was almost ineffective, as after them there was still more hostage-taking being negotiated, which resulted in the release of the hostages alive. So why them [Vincent et Antoine] paid for this intervention? It was a victim.
Antoine and Vincent were kidnapped in an African capital, Niamey, Niger. Is it just that this is not happening again, that the French authorities at the time Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé, decided this military intervention against the convoy transporting them??
Probably. It really is a strong message that they wanted to send to the terrorists. Above all, we want those who have decided to take responsibility for us. My parents approached all the people who potentially had a responsibility for what happened. At that time, no one answered.
Neither President Nicolas Sarkozy nor Defense Minister Alain Juppé?
Neither Mr Nicolas Sarkozy nor Mr Alain Juppé. Mr. Alain Juppé has never come to my family. Sir. Nicolas Sarkozy did not answer, I had written to him, and I never had an answer. We would like a little decency in relation to that, if only a small acknowledgment of the decision that was made. We will not bring them back. We know this will not change history, but we wish they could be honored at the height of the loss for which they are responsible.
Are there any documents that are still a defense secret and that you do not have access to??
I think. We probably did not have access to everything in relation to it. But if there had been no interference, they could have gone out like all those who came out after them, maybe it would have been a long time that it would have taken months, years, but they would have had a chance to come back.
There would have been a negotiation …
As for all the others!
Today you are asking the French state to assume its responsibilities, but what approach do you expect from the French state??
My parents would like to be received that we tell them once and for all that we explain them. We do not have to show it in the public square if necessary. But we want us to take responsibility for ourselves, tell the family why it was decided, how it was decided and then above all to be recognized. At the time, they were denied the blue white red flag on the coffins because they are not military. We would like this recognition. All the tributes that we have been able to pay for ten years, it is the family, only the family, that has organized them. We never had the slightest official support. If we do not bring them back, we can at least bring their memories to life, and that this is not just the work of two families. There are only two more. It is not a group of a hundred people, as there may have been in other cases. It is very complicated to keep the memory alive when there are only two of you. I just want to know what I want us to recognize things.