15 Nov 2010

Lawyers for family French Polynesian journalist allegedly murdered issue statement

10:45 am on 15 November 2010

The lawyers acting for the family of a French Polynesian journalist who vanished in 1997, Jean-Pascal Couraud, have issued a statement to contradict recent comments by a former spy, Felicien Micheloni.

Last week, Mr Micheloni, who is facing charges in Tahiti for invading several people's privacy, told a news site in Corsica that the now disbanded presidential intelligence unit of Gaston Flosse never took an interest in Mr Couraud.

Mr Micheloni said his service only observed Mr Flosse's political rivals and added that he was never told that the activities were forbidden.

Mr Couraud's family's lawyers say those comments warrant a response and make it necessary to restate facts as they have been established during the probe into the alleged murder of the journalist which is about to enter its 7th year.

They say testimony by several former spies corroborate that Mr Couraud was under surveillance by Mr Micheloni's unit until the day he disappeared.

Last week, Mr Flosse's lawyer asked for charges against his client related to Mr Micheloni's case to be dropped.

According to Mr Flosse, his intelligence unit worked with the full knowledge of the French secret service branch and the French high commission.

The high commissioner in Papeete, contacted by the local press, declined to comment as the investigation into Mr Micheloni's activities was yet to be concluded.

Before working for Mr Flosse, Mr Micheloni was employed by the French intelligence service.