26 Jun 2013

Two men charged with murder in French Polynesia's JPK case

6:52 pm on 26 June 2013

Two men in French Polynesia have been charged with kidnapping and murder in connection with the 1997 disappearance of a local journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud, who was known under the acronym JPK.

Reports from Tahiti say the two are free but are not allowed to leave the territory as their former boss at the now disbanded presidential GIP militia is also due to be interrogated.

Walter Zweifel.

"The charges come nine years after the journalist's family lodged a police complaint for murder. Tutu Manate and Tino Mara have long been alleged to have attached breeze blocks on the journalist's limbs and drowned him off Tahiti as part of an operation by the GIP militia, led by Leonard Puputauki. In 2004 when a former spy, Vetea Guilloux, first made the claim, he was immediately arrested and jailed for slander, but last last year repeated the allegations, which have reportedly been backed up by additional testimony. The president at the time of the disappearance, 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 the killing would have been that he had documents that could have damaged Mr Flosse and his associates in Paris."