Jailed Corsican nationalist Yvan Colonna died after being beaten earlier this month by a fellow inmate, his family announced on March 21.
Colonna, one of France’s most prominent prisoners, died in a hospital in the southern French city of Marseille where he had been receiving treatment following the assault, his lawyer Patrice Spinosi told AFP News on behalf of the family.
Colonna, 61, had been serving a life sentence when a Cameroonian jihadist attacked him on March 2, leaving him in a coma.
According to prosecutors, jihadist Franck Elong Abe, who had been serving time for terror-related offenses, tried to suffocate Colonna with a trash bag after hearing him “blaspheming” and mocking the Prophet Muhammed.
The assault, as well as the perceived failure of prison authorities to prevent it, sparked the biggest and most violent protests in the French Mediterranean island in decades.
Colonna had been jailed for life for fatally shooting Corsica’s top regional official Claude Erignac in 1998. He was arrested in 2003 after he was eventually found living as a shepherd in the Corsican mountains.
Many in Corsica saw Colonna as a hero for his campaign for independence from France.
The latest riots in Corsica has prompted the French government to suggest that it could loosen its grip on the island.
In a newspaper interview last week, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that the government could offer Corsica autonomy.
French President Emmanuel Macron conceded that the issue of autonomy of Corsica should not be a “taboo debate.”
“It is a debate that cannot take place until there is absolute calm,” Macron added.
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