On the evening of February 6, 1998, Claude Erignac died under the bullets of a killer who had shot him in the back, in a street of Ajaccio, while he was walking to the theater.

On Monday, the commemorations to mark the 25th anniversary of this assassination were held in Ajaccio, in the presence of Gérald Darmanin, on the scene of the crime which has become a place of remembrance.

"It is up to us to write a new page. Twenty-five years after the death of Claude Erignac, it is time to inaugurate together the beginning of the sequel. It is time to write a new page in the history of the Corsica", declared the Minister of the Interior.

The Mediterranean island has complicated relations with French governments and has had nationalist movements for decades demanding more autonomy and, for some, independence, as well as clandestine groups.

The nationalists have been at the head of the island's authorities since 2015.

The government "reaches out to the countless Corsicans of goodwill, lovers of peace and fraternity" to "trace together" an "institutional, economic, cultural route" and "for the cause of peace", he added. .

"Let's work together", launched the minister because "the dead are watching us".

Claude Erignac was the first prefect killed in France since the Second World War and his assassination caused shock waves.

In the following days, tens of thousands of islanders expressed their fear during the biggest demonstrations ever organized in Ajaccio and Bastia.

Asked by AFP just after this speech, the autonomist president of the executive council of Corsica, Gilles Simeoni, who was also the lawyer for Yvan Colonna, one of the men convicted for his participation in this assassination, did not wished to react immediately.

On Place Erignac, where an olive tree now stands and the inscription "1 man, 1 place", deputies, the president of the assembly of Corsica, Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis or the current prefect of Corsica were present for this tribute to the "bright, straight and upright" man that Claude Erignac was, according to the Minister of the Interior.

Macron with the Erignac family

At the same time in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron received the Erignac family.

For the 20th anniversary, the Head of State had made his first trip to the island since his election, accompanied by Mrs. Erignac and her two children, for whom it was the first return to Corsica since the events.

"I hope that the Republic will never weaken in Corsica", then pleaded Dominique Erignac, paying homage to her husband on this "cursed place".

For her part, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, estimated Monday morning on Twitter that "murdering a Prefect is to strike the whole Nation", paying "homage to this great figure of the Republic".

In total, three men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of the prefect Erignac: Pierre Alessandri, Alain Ferrandi and Yvan Colonna.

Alain Ferrandi awaits the court's decision on February 23 on his request for semi-freedom.

Detained in Arles prison (Bouches-du-Rhône), Yvan Colonna was the victim of the attack on a fellow prisoner on March 2, 2022, to which he succumbed on March 21, which caused weeks of violent demonstrations on the island.

© 2023 AFP