Request to drop murder charges in 'JPK' case heard in French Polynesia

5:57 pm on 1 July 2020

The judicial authorities in French Polynesia have heard a formal request to drop murder charges in the case of the alleged killing of a journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud.

The journalist, known as JPK, vanished in 1997, and a year ago his ex-partner Miri Tatarata and a friend Francis Stein were charged with his murder.

French Polynesian journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud, who disappeared in 1997.

French Polynesian journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud, who disappeared in 1997. Photo: AFP

The two, who were said to have had an affair at the time of his disappearance, challenged the indictment process in December.

According to the broadcaster La Premiere, prosecutors at the hearing wanted the charges to be upheld and investigations to be continued.

The duo's lawyer however called for the charges to be dropped because according to them, nothing had been added to the case file which warranted their continued status as charged suspects.

The judicial authorities are expected to issue a ruling on 29 September.

The hearing was to be held two months ago but was deferred because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An investigation was first opened in 2004 after a former spy claimed that JPK had been kidnapped and killed by the government's GIP militia, which dumped him in the sea between Moorea and Tahiti.

Murder charges against two members of the now disbanded GIP were dismissed more than five years ago, after incriminating wiretaps were ruled inadmissible because they had been obtained illegally.

However, kidnapping charges had been upheld.

It is not known when or if the case will go to trial.