Date: Thu, 12 Dec 96 16:36:55 CST
From: Arm The Spirit <>
Subject: Code Of Silence In Corsica
Article: 2236

Poll Shows Law Of Silence Deeply Rooted In Corsica

Reuter, 11 December 1996

PARIS, Dec 11 (Reuter)—“Omerta”, the centuries-old law of silence which prevents Corsicans from informing on one another, still holds sway on this volatile Mediterranean island, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday.

The poll, published in the daily newspaper Le Figaro, showed 48 percent of Corsicans would not testify in a trial against the island's minority separatist guerrillas even if they personally witnessed a separatist bombing attack.

Another 43 percent said they would testify while nine percent did not answer the question.

Omerta is based on solidarity between the island's 250,000 inhabitants, who often have family links, but is mostly fuelled by fear of bloody reprisal which the guerrillas threaten against those who collaborate with the authorities.

Corsica has been racked for two decades by a separatist campaign for independence from France marked by hundreds of mostly small bomb attacks against public buildings which have caused few casualties because they are nearly always staged at night.

The poll showed 47 percent of Corsicans had no sympathy with the separatists while 42 percent had some sympathy for them and nine percent had no opinion.

The relative harmlessness of the separatists' bombings was reflected in the fact that 85 percent of Corsicans said they never, or virtually never, felt their personal security threatened compared to only 46 percent of people in mainland France who felt that way.

The Sofres poll was carried out on December 2–3 among 5,000 Corsicans.