Kidnapped Frenchman found dead in Ivory Coast

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The French director of the Novotel hotel in the Ivory Coast commercial capital Abidjan, who was kidnapped in the city on April 4, has been confirmed dead, his family's lawyer said Thursday.

Stephane Frantz di Rippel's corpse has been found and is being examined by investigators, said lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur, citing the Paris magistrate following the case on behalf French authorities, Patricia Simon.

Armed men burst into the Novotel on April 4 during clashes in the city between rival political factions.

They kidnapped two Frenchmen -- di Rippel and Yves Lambelin, chairman of Ivory Coast's biggest private firm, Sifca.

They also captured a Malaysian, Chelliah Pandian, director of the Sifca subsidiary Sania and Lambelin's Beninois assistant Raoul Adeossi.

On Wednesday, two bodies were found in the lagoon, but the French foreign ministry told AFP that authorities were not yet able to confirm reports that they are those of the two missing Frenchmen.

Last month, Ivory Coast's new leader, President Alassane Ouattara, said his forces had arrested a number of militia fighters including some whom he said were involved in the kidnap.

© 2011 AFP

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