Philippe de Dieuleveult began a career in television as a cameraman and then a freelancer on Antenne 2. It was quite naturally towards reporting that the man, still unknown to the general public, decided to embark. In 1979, Philippe de Dieuleveult was hired as an image reporter. A year later, the JRI accompanies the vice-president of Médecins sans frontières Alain Dubos in Iran during a humanitarian mission of clandestine exploration.
“Philippe de Dieuleveult accompanied him: the laughing adventurer was not yet the risk-all of television in an orange jumpsuit who was looking for treasures in a helicopter. It was then a clandestine exploration mission – “a mission à la Kipling” – carried out in Khomeini’s Iran and whose aim was to find locations for medical and surgical teams impatiently awaited by the Kurdish guerrillas”, reported Ladepêche in 2001.
In 1981, Philippe de Dieuleveult took a new step in his life. He became co-host on Antenne 2 of the program La Chasse aux Trésors. Each week, the animator went to a different country to look for treasures from the top of his helicopter. His red jumpsuit and his personality have made him a real star of the small screen. The show, broadcast on Sunday evenings, is enjoying growing success.
In 1985, while a new season was being negotiated with Philippe de Dieuleveult, the latter decided to put an end to his collaboration with the channel because of various financiers. Indeed, he would have requested the establishment of a second helicopter to take pictures, but for lack of money, his request was rejected. The host then refuses to continue the program.
In 1985, Philippe de Dieuleveult and 10 of his companions set off on an expedition to Zaire, which later became the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their objective is to cross equatorial Africa by river routes of more than three thousand kilometers during the summer. The expedition, nicknamed Africa-Raft, will begin “from Lake Tanganyika in Burundi to the mouth of the Zaire River at Banana”, reports Alexis de Dieuleveult in his book Noyade d’Etat. For this, the team boarded two rafts called “Godelieve” and “Françoise”.
But on August 6, 1985, some fortune companions withdrew so that in the end, the troupe was made up of only seven individuals, including Philippe de Dieuleveult. Two of his companions, François Laurenceau and Jean-Louis Amblard decide not to accompany them because of the dangerousness of the Inga rapids. After the disappearance of their companion, they will be held for 48 hours by Zairian soldiers. The local authorities will even make them sign a waiver which states that they “did not hear any shots fired”.
A few hours after boarding the two rafts, the seven companions will disappear forever. The body of Philippe de Dieuleveult will never be found. According to the official version, the bodies of the castaways would have remained “stuck under the rocks or devoured by crocodiles”.
Faced with the circumstances of his disappearance, several hypotheses have emerged. Some members of Dieuleveult’s family even speak of an execution linked to a military blunder. A hypothesis supported by Jean de Dieuleveult, the brother of the facilitator. For years, Jean de Dieuleveult will not stop questioning the official circumstances of his death. After his disappearance in 2015, his son Alexis de Dieuleveult will decide to take over this business. Thanks to the writings, testimonies and official documents left by his father, Alexis de Dieuleveult decided to reveal “the truth” in his book Noyade d’Etat.
In his book Noyade d’Etat, Alexis de Dieuleveult wanted to carry the word of his father who fought for years to have the truth recognized about the circumstances of Philippe de Dieuleveult’s death. “This type of writing, investigation and investigation did not interest my father. For 30 years, it was his fight. I could not, as a son, offer him to write a book together. I let him work in this business“, he explained to us. But when his father Jean disappeared in 2015, Alexis de Dieuleveult finally decided to bring out the old files of the patriarch in order to highlight all his years of investigation.
“It was unimaginable to throw away his documents. The time had come to unveil some truths that the general public does not know and to close this case. This case has been talked about for years with assumptions. It was time to say things,” he told us.
According to Jean de Dieuleveult, his brother Philippe and his companions were killed by Zairian soldiers following a military blunder. A few days before the arrival of the two rafts at the Inga dam, a telegram from France reportedly alerted the Zairian soldiers to the imminent arrival of a group of mercenaries who were a threat to the hydroelectric infrastructure of the dam. The latter then had to be put out of harm’s way.
Coincidentally, Philippe de Dieuleveult’s troop also had to pass through this roadblock at the same time. The seven companions of the Africa-Raft would then have been executed by the African soldiers who thought they had something to do with the commando in question. Charges that have always been disputed by the French and Zairian authorities.
“There was a military blunder on the Africa-Raft expedition and Philippe was assassinated. He was arrested alive on the banks, he was questioned and there was an order to kill him afterwards”, we told affirmed Alexis de Dieuleveult and added: “The political and military leaders know it. We are in a great hypocrisy, but it is a disturbing affair at the diplomatic level”.
More than 35 years after the disappearance of his godfather, Alexis de Dieuleveult is still continuing his fight to have the French authorities recognize their involvement in the disappearance of the host. At the end of his book, he sent an open letter to the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron, wishing that he deny “the official thesis of collective drowning certified by the government at the time”.
A “lifetime fight” that could take years, but for which he firmly believes in it.