14 Mar 2013

Tahiti's Couraud disappearance case close to resolution, says Le Monde

7:26 pm on 14 March 2013

The French newspaper Le Monde says three men in French Polynesia may be charged with murder over the 1997 disappearance of a local journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud - nine years after his family lodged a murder complaint.

The paper says new testimony by a former spy of the then president Gaston Flosse's illegal intelligence unit points to the head of the disbanded GIP militia, Leonard Puputauki, and two of his subordinates, Tutu Manate and Tino Mara.

The latter two are alleged to have attached breeze blocks on the journalist's limbs and drowned him off Tahiti.

In 2004 when he first made the claim, the former spy, Vetea Guilloux, was immediately arrested and jailed for slander, but Le Monde says four months ago he repeated the allegations, which have been backed up by additional testimony.

Gaston Flosse swore in the territorial assembly in 2004 that he had never ordered anybody's death.

The journalist's brother has said a possible motive for abducting and killing Jean-Pascal Couraud would have been that he had documents that could have damaged Mr Flosse and his associates in Paris.