17 Oct 2007

Tahiti publisher accuses French prosecutor of legal harassment

5:27 pm on 17 October 2007

The publisher of the Tahiti-Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, has accused the French state prosecutor's office in Papeete of legal harassment and using the judicial machinery in a bid to silence his publication.

The prosecutor has arranged for Mr du Prel to be charged in a Paris court for defamation over an article in January about the disappearance ten years ago of a Tahitian journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

Police investigations into the alleged murder by a militia of the then French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, have been inconclusive amid claims of interference in the probe.

Mr du Prel has now succeeded to be heard via a video link next month after first being told to fly, at his own expense, from Tahiti to France for a brief court appearance.

He says the judicial avenue chosen by his critics may involve up to nine trials whose costs will spell the end the magazine irrespective of a possible acquittal.

"They want to shut me up because there is somehow considered that Tahiti Pacifique was partially guilty of having pushed Mr Flosse out of power. This is their interpretation."

Alex du Prel