Tahiti murder suspect applies for France trip

9:38 am on 17 January 2023
Francis Stein, former head of French Polynesia's archive service

Photo: Polynésie la 1ere

The man accused of murdering French Polynesian journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud, who was widely known as JPK, has asked for permission to travel to France.

JPK vanished in 1997 in mysterious circumstances.

Francis Stein has been banned from travelling since 2019 when he and the journalist's partner Miri Tatarata were indicted for the alleged killing of JPK in 1997.

Stein is the former head of the territory's archive service while Tatarata is the director of French Polynesia's environment service.

They are both free but under the terms of their judicial control measures, Stein is not allowed to leave French Polynesia.

Tahiti-infos said as the prosecution is against his travel plans, Stein was now awaiting a reply from the investigative authorities next week.

The murder charges implicating Stein and Tatarata were laid 22 years after the alleged crime.

JPK vanished but his body was never found.

In 2004, an investigation was opened after a former spy claimed that JPK had been abducted and killed by the government's now disbanded GIP militia, which allegedly dumped him at sea.

Murder charges in 2013 against two members of the GIP were dropped a year later because surreptitiously recorded phone conversations were deemed to be inadmissible.

However, the two men - Tutu Manate and Tino Mara - still face kidnapping charges.

It is not known when, or if, any of the murder or kidnapping suspects will have to stand trial.

The only person to face the court over JPK's disappearance was the spy Vetea Guilloux who made the initial murder claim in 2004.

For that he was immediately arrested, tried, and sentenced to one year in prison for slander, but within weeks he was set free.

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

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

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs