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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 11:58 GMT
Ivorians demand journalist's body
Jean Helene
Jean Helene had reported from Africa for many years
The lawyer for the Ivory Coast policeman charged with killing a French journalist has demanded a new autopsy.

The lawyer wants Jean Helene's body to be exhumed and returned to Abidjan, saying he was looking for new evidence.

Helene, the correspondent for the French Radio France Internationale, was shot dead on 21 October and buried in France shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, a French judge is planning to go to Abidjan next week as part of France's investigation of the killing.


"The body is an important piece of evidence," lawyer Charles Kignima told the BBC French service, saying he had not been present at the original autopsy.

Sergeant Theodore Sery initially said that his gun had gone off accidently but Mr Kignima now says that Helene was shot by other people as he was having an argument with Sergent Sery.

The covered body of French radio station Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent Jean Helene lays on the street next to a funeral vehicle
His body was found outside the police station

"My client did not fire the fatal shot. He is innocent," he said.

Helene was shot in the back of the head while he was waiting outside a police station to interview opposition activists who were due to be released.

French magistrate Patrick Ramael will stage a reconstruction of the events leading to Helene's killing, working with Ivorian officials.

French President Jacques Chirac condemned the killing and demanded a full investigation.

The killing was the latest example of anti-foreigner sentiment in Ivory Coast, since a rebellion split the country in two a year ago.

Government supporters accuse the former colonial power France of sympathising with the rebels, who control the largely Muslim north.

Some 3,800 French troops are currently policing a buffer zone between the two sides.


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