9 Feb 2009

French Polynesia missing journalist probe seeks de Villepin testimony

11:31 am on 9 February 2009

The investigation into the mysterious disappearance of French Polynesian journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud in 1997 has moved to Paris where a former French prime minister has been questioned.

The investigating judge had earlier obtained the declassification of some French secret service documents in his bid to find out what happened to Mr Couraud.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Jean-Pascal Couraud was a critic of the then President Gaston Flosse and looking at his links to Jacques Chirac. There has been a suggestion emanating from a separate French probe that Mr Chirac had a bank account in Japan. But now the former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, has told the judge that there is no truth in the claim. Mr Chirac's lawyer says he won't have to answer questions himself because of the immunity for his presidential term. The investigation, now in its fifth year, took a dramatic turn in December when a letter was found in Mr Flosse's home giving an account of how Mr Couraud was killed. Mr Flosse says the letter is a fake. Its purported author was found dead five years ago."