28 Oct 2005

French Polynesian court convicts former spy

2:19 pm on 28 October 2005

An appeal court in French Polynesia has convicted a former spy of the GIP intervention force, Vetea Guilloux, to a jail sentence for lying about the disappearance of a journalist nearly eight years ago.

The court gave him a one year sentence, of which 11 months will be suspended, for saying that he witnessed the abduction of Jean Pascal Couraud.

He claimed last year that fellow GIP members told him that the journalist was drowned off Tahiti.

Guilloux was jailed for malicious slander last year but was freed weeks later pending today's appeal, with the court failing to uphold the malicious slander ruling.

The journalist's brother, Philippe Couraud, has welcomed the ruling because it will force the investigation into the family's complaint of murder to be continued.

He says this means that the police cannot shut down the investigation for the alleged murder.

"The judgement says we can't say this is true or not, we must wait for the result of the other inquiry into the assassination. This last point is very important and is a good thing for us."

Philippe Couraud

The GIP was reporting to the former president, Gaston Flosse, who swore in the territorial assembly last year that he never ordered anybody's death.