Saturday, December 15, 2007
PRESS RELEASE > reporters sans frontieres
15 December 2007
The tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Jean-Pascal Couraud: Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities not to betray the hopes of his family
A few days before the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of the former editor of the Les Nouvelles in Tahiti, Jean-Pascal Couraud ( "JPK"), on December 15, 2007, Reporters Without Borders calls on the French authorities including the Justice minister, known as the the Keeper of Judicial Seals, Rachida Dati, to renew their commitment to establishing the truth about the exact circumstances of the death of the journalist.
"Recent events allow us to believe that the investigation into the death of Jean-Pascal Couraud could move forward on a sound basis. Ten years after the fact, it is urgent, both from a moral and legal viewpoint, that the ins and outs of this case be brought out into the open. We call on French justice not to provide arguments to those who believe that French Polynesia is an area of exception where scandals are king. On the contrary, we expect that the hopes of JPK's family and those of members of his support committee are confirmed by transparent ruling, without setting aside the self-evident legal route," said Reporters Without Borders.
"Jean-Pascal Couraud concerned, among other things, the supposed transfer of funds to a Japanese bank account, through a Polynesian account, in favor of the former President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac. Sensitivity of this information and the tragic loss of JPK makes even more compelling the discovery of the truth in this matter," said the organization.
The year 2007 enabled progress.
In September, civil claimants were finally able to obtain a copy of the legal file, including interviews reinforcing their belief that the journalist was assassinated. On November 20, they obtained satisfaction at trial chambers, Papeete, on two points: the deposit of papers from the file seized at the home of General Rondot, in the context of the Clearstream scandal, linking back to the Japanese account of the former President of the Republic, and, the dismissal of Judge Philippe Stelmach, previously in charge of the case.
According to the lawyer for the civil parties, Max Gatti, the discovery of two documents found on the hard drive of General Rondot relating to an account belonging to Gaston Flosse proves the documents were as controversial as JPK claimed.
In May 2007, the journalist's former lawyer, Jean-Dominique Des Arcis, confirmed that JPK had specific information on the transferral of funds between a large company in French Polynesia and an account held by Jacques Chirac.
The lawyer will be heard by the court on December 17.
Civil parties were authorised by the court in French Polynesia to verify whether it is possible to establish a link between the documents and their complaint for "assassination and conspiracy" in 2004.
Judge Stelmach, who had asked to be withdrawn from the case on many occasions, and, had informed the civil parties of its desire to close the case in July 2007, was replaced by Judge Jean Redonnet.
Finally, after requests by the family and the support committee in June and September, the Keeper of Judicial Seals, Justice minister Rachida Dati, assured in mid-November that "directors of criminal cases had taken up the file and that it would be studied with the greatest attention. "
In November 2007, the public prosecutor issued a dismissal of indictment, without waiting for a decision from the trial chamber in Papeete. It is urgent that the claimants quickly present their version of the case and its supporting elements to the judge. It is also essential that the material facts from the Clearstream scandal be transmitted as soon as possible.
JPK disappeared on December 15, 1997, and his body has never been found. In October 2002, the Papeete court concluded suicide and pronounced the case closed. In 2004, the investigation was reopened after testimony from a former member of the Groupe d'Intervention de la Polynesia (GIP, personal services of the former president of French Polynesia Gaston Flosse). Vetea Guilloux said that he had witnessed the assassination of Jean-Couraud Couraud perpetrated by members of the GIP, before recanting his statements. In December, the family of journalist filed "complaint against X", whereby a civil party to "murder" and "complicity".
Reporters Without Borders supports their search for truth.
On December 16, 2007, from 9 to 10 am, France Inter broadcast on the show "Interception" a story by Benedict Collombat devoted to the disappearance of Jean-Pascal Couraud called "Sharks in troubled waters - against an inaquiry into l'affair JPK."
Reporters sans frontières - We mustn’t forget them!