10 Sep 2003

Wallisian man accused of killing Kanak in New Caledonia released in France

5:36 am on 10 September 2003

The Wallisian man charged with the alleged murder of a Kanak man in New Caledonia, Laurent Vili, has been released on parole in France after a year in custody.

Vili was arrested in France where he was playing professional rugby in August last year and brought back to Noumea.

He had been in Noumea in January last year when Jean Marie Goyeta was shot dead during feuding between Kanaks and Wallisians in the Noumea suburb of St Louis.

Vili was transferred to a French prison a month ago for health reasons.

His lawyers and supporters say he is a scapegoat for the violence in the suburb, where three people have died.

They are working to have him cleared of all allegations.

Vili hopes to return to playing rugby for his club, Montpellier.