France Corsica: Erignac killer Colonna to stay in jail

Corsican police prefect Claude Erignac (undated image) Claude Erignac's murder shook France

A French court has upheld a life sentence for the Corsican separatist who shot dead France's top official on the island in 1998.

Yvan Colonna, 51, who spent four years on the run in the wilds of the island, was convicted of killing police prefect Claude Erignac in 2007.

But a retrial was ordered after the original sentence was overturned on a minor procedural error last year.

Colonna, convicted on the word of other militants, denies killing Erignac.

Speaking after the seven-week trial at a special court in Paris, his lawyer, Antoine Sollacaro, told reporters the defence had demonstrated "proof... of his innocence" and would appeal against the verdict.

Erignac was shot three times in the back of the head as he walked to a concert hall on a street in the Corsican capital, Ajaccio.

Colonna was captured in a shepherd's hut in Porto Pollo, southern Corsica, in 2003.

An artist's sketch shows Yvan Colonna  in court in Paris, 15 June 2011 Yvan Colonna may be released on parole in 2021

He was found in possession of a grenade and an ammunition clip.

The case against the former shepherd rested on testimony given by other militants arrested the year after the assassination.

Having identified him as the gunman, they later retracted their accusations.

Corsica has suffered occasional incidents of separatist violence over the past 30 years.

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