Monday, June 8, 2015


Berard Jeannie was a police officer, working with the paramilitary unit (PMU). He was off-duty on 5 June 1977 but his shift was changed, without explanation. On that day, he was shot in the head while eating his lunch at his desk.

Last year, the “celebrations” to mark the coup d’etat of 5 June were marked by the removal of the Zomn Lib monument from 5th June Avenue earlier in April. This year, 5 June was marked by the 29th National Congress of Parti Lepep, a function that was followed by a “special political event”.

But for many like the Jeannie family, 5 June remains a day of mourning.

Last year, reacting to Albert René’s call for national reconciliation, the brother of late police officer Berard Jeannie - killed on the day of the coup d’état while he was on duty- , called for the truth to come out about his brother’s assassination.

Albert René’s call for national reconciliation in parti Lepep’s mouthpiece The People, was followed by his predecessor James Mancham’s warning that “speaking about national reconciliation is one thing but achieving national reconciliation and consolidating it, is certainly something else”.

James Mancham cautioned that before the country was able to go down that road, “there must be the establishment of the truth concerning the coup d’état of 5 June 1977”. This is exactly what Roch Jeannie is asking for, again today.

Last year, Parti Lepep’s Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Cascade, Charles de Commarmond, mentioned the family name in Parliament while debating the State of the Nation Address (SONA). After hearing this, Roch Jeannie, a 63 year-old man from Anse Boileau, decided to speak out. “It was the first time I heard a politician from the majority party speak of my brother. I have waited 38 years for an explanation and time has not eased the pain,” he told TODAY.

“Government must tell the truth and stop celebrating 5 June. Only then can we begin the process of reconciliation,” added the heartbroken man.

MNA Charles de Commarmond explained then to TODAY why he mentioned Mr Jeannie’s name. “Those who organised the coup did not want bloodshed. It was unfortunate that there were three deaths and I think that the authorities and families concerned should come together and talk. It is not healthy for those families to carry on facing such a dilemma. They seem ready, so it would be the right thing to address this issue and move on,” he added.

 Berard Jeannie was a police officer, working with the paramilitary unit (PMU) at the time of his death. He was off-duty on 5 June 1977 but his shift was changed, according to his brother. “My brother knew nothing of the coup. It was on that fateful day that he was shot in the head while eating lunch at his desk,” Roch Jeannie recounts.

His was one of three deaths that occurred during the coup d’état orchestrated by former president France Albert René on 5 June 1977. For the next two years, he ran the country by presidential decree until 1979 when a new one-party state constitution was enforced, until the introduction of the Third Constitution and multi-party democracy on 18 June 1993.

 According to unverified reports, Mr. Jeannie says that “the evidence was tampered with to protect the guilty and the police have remained tight-lipped on the subject until today”. More than three and a half decades have passed since the events of that fateful day, but the dead man’s brother is still waiting for closure. For that to be possible though, he needs the truth to finally come out. He describes his elder brother as “a hardworking person with a strong sense of integrity”, adding that his family has been victimized for 37 years. “My brother was innocent. As a Christian I am willing to forgive – if those responsible are willing to apologize,” he says.