9 Sep 2002

Wallisian murder suspect returned to Noumea from France

4:17 pm on 9 September 2002

A court in New Caledonia has held a weekend sitting to remand a Wallisian man who was arrested in France last month suspected of killing a Kanak in ethnic violence near Noumea in January.

Press reports in Noumea say the suspect arrived late on Saturday on a flight from Osaka and was accompanied by three police officers.

He is alleged to have fatally shot Jean-Marie Goyeta in the Noumea suburb of St Louis -- the scene of violence between indigenous Kanaks and Polynesians from Wallis and Futuna.

The late night hearing was held to meet a fifteen day deadline since his arrest in Montpellier because otherwise he would have to be freed.

The suspect was a university student in France and a player for the Montpellier rugby team.

The Nouvelles Caldoniennes says he returned to New Caledonia to defend his family after learning that his father's former house had been burned down in the unrest before Christmas.

A date for a trial has yet to be set.