Journalists describe mock executions in Syria

2014-04-21 17:36

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Syria
    Options and Implications for Lebanon and the Region Now R196.00
    buy now

Paris - Mock executions, hunger, thirst, cold, beatings, a makeshift chess game to pass the time... and a "surreal" snowball fight with their jailers.

Details are starting to trickle through of the ordeal experienced by the four French journalists who returned home on Sunday after being held hostage for 10 months at the hands of the most radical of Syria's jihadist groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

But the journalists were reluctant to give too much away for fear of jeopardising the safety of those who remain in captivity in the war-torn country, including US journalist James Foley, a freelancer who had been working for Agence France-Presse and other media when he went missing in November 2012.

According to Didier Francois, 53, an experienced and highly respected war reporter for Europe 1 radio who was kidnapped on 6 June north of Aleppo along with 23-year-old photographer Edouard Elias, the first few days were particularly tough.

"They put you in the mood straight away. The pressure is very, very, very strong. Four days without eating or drinking. On the fourth day without drinking, you start feeling really awful, handcuffed to a radiator and being beaten," he told Europe 1 radio on Monday.

"It's... to break any will to resist."

Francois and Elias were stopped by armed and masked men after they crossed the border into Syria from Turkey.

"A Kalashnikov to the head, handcuffed in the back... In English, they told us 'Don't worry, we will check everything, this can be settled in one hour'... Typical," Francois said.

Then "we find ourselves in T-shirts, without belts or shoes, without our phones, with nothing. And with something on the head."

'World centre of torture'

Nicolas Henin, 37, was captured several weeks later in Raqqa in the north - as was Pierre Torres, a 29-year-old photographer.

The four were held together after having initially been detained separately, and appeared thin when they were welcomed home on Sunday in an emotional reunion with their loved ones at an air base near Paris.

Henin said in an interview with Arte television late on Sunday that hunger had been tough to endure, as was the cold.

"There was also a little physical abuse, but that's what all Syrian prisoners endure," he said.

"Syria has always been a big world centre of torture."

Francois said his jailers staged mock executions several times, placing guns on his temple or forehead.

But the journalists refused to reveal more on any further physical violence they may have been subjected to.

For his part, Henin attempted to escape on his third day of captivity, and managed to run for about 10km at night before being caught by his abductors.

 Jailers announced Mandela death

The journalists were regularly moved around, and Henin counted around 10 different locations, in war zones and sometimes near the frontline.

To pass the time, Elias and Francois made a makeshift game of chess on a box of cheese, with nail clippers and a pen they kept hidden in the jacket and socks of the photographer.

The two also gave each other photography and scuba diving "lessons", and tried to remember key dates in French history.

Contact with their jailers varied between "difficult phases" and "phases of total relaxation", said Francois.

They knew next-to-nothing about what was happening in the outside world, apart from the death of Nelson Mandela which their jailers announced.

He also described a "surreal moment" when the guards entered their cell pretending to bring food and instead, "they had brought snow and they had a snowball fight with us".

The four were eventually brought by car to the border with Turkey, which they crossed on foot, and were picked up by Turkish soldiers on the other side overnight on Friday to Saturday.

Read more on:    syria  |  media  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Montague Gardens 18:07 PM
Road name: Montague Drive

ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - expect delays

Kuils River 18:05 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.