Wednesday, July 09, 2008
The JPK affair involves a lone journalist in French
Polynesia, and his family, fighting against the full
power of the republic.
Who killed JPK?
a 30 year overview of the
JPK affair, from 1967, when
Jean-Pascal was a boy
by avaiki nius agency editor
15th December 1997
Surveillance agents, trained by French spies, lash nylon rope through concrete blocks, four of them, to the body of Jean-Pascal Couraud, investigative journalist. His blood ebbs onto the afterdeck of the motorboat, rocking languidly in open ocean swells. Full moon night, open ocean between two islands. Mo'orea and Tahiti. Shark night.
Jean-Pascal, six, holds up a small fish, orange.
Francette kneels, raises the family camera from it's neck strap, captures the boy, the fish, a first, a lagoon vista sweeping behind him. There are no mushroom clouds near Mo'orea.
In time, the blond French boy eyes a looming reef curl, board underarm. Local Maohi nearby pose a question: come surfing with us?
Jean-Pascal releases the shutter on a battered SLR.
Like happy bees, teenagers swarm into another pose, laughing at socio-politico innuendo from the young man with the camera at warm winter afternoon, a quiver of surfboards sunk into the sand, pointing skywards. Most of the youth are local Maohi, telling Jean-Pascal their stories, he lives their life.
An off-duty journalist surveys the scene, popping the cap off another bottle of Hinano beer, portable radio blaring. 'Son of a teacher couple, I think. You know, part of the build up to the bomb, everything arriving from France …'
JPK times his exit perfectly.
Sauntering down court steps, he remains just a few unforgiveable steps ahead of the personal and executive space of President Gaston Flosse. Emerging, grimly, from a rare courtroom defeat.
JPK wears an impish smirk, a trademark, a virtuoso visage worthy of his Kennedyesque by-line, the one he uses when at his editor's chair, in the territory's biggest daily newspaper. Flashes flash, a black and white exposure destined for screening across next day's front page of Les Nouvelles.
A motorboat slows, idles, off Tahiti. A languidly calm and warm December night, rising full moon reflecting off gently rolling swells.
Four blocks are lashed to the battered, voiding body of the former Pape'ete editor, sacked by new owners.
Jean-Pascal Couraud is hefted, swung and tossed in one team motion, body dipping slightly, weighted feet angling towards oily smooth swells, some 3,000 metres deep.
Waves curl in cleanly, close to the west coast of Tahiti, broken mid-vista by a robust frangipani tree, surroundings scattered thickly with headstones.
There is no grave. Thugs smashed beer bottles and broke a wooden plaque. In their place, a square of coral stones, whitewashed and garlanded with fresh gardenia. A simple newspaper ad promises simple ceremony, marking ten years since the full moon night Jean-Pascal disappeared. It is 15th December 2007.
The family do not cry. They read a poem, pause for prayers and hymns from Maohi parishioners, renew memories, pronounce themselves blessed, joke, hug the few faces that still crumple with dismay. A brother answers a question about surfing. "He was a goofy-foot," says Olivier.
New French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, has a gorgeous minister of Justice, Racthida Dati. She is on record giving firm assurance to the Couraud family that her ministry would treat the investigation with utmost thoroughness.
Later, President Sarkozy promulgates new law requiring journalists to reveal their sources to courts of inquiry. He also takes steps to regain cabinet control of an appointment process for the head of French public broadcasting, following a series of damaging documentaries about JPK.
Founded online in 2004, Avaiki Nius Agency began Project JPK as its first in-depth investigation on 15th December 2005, a year after an agent of presidential security went public with allegations of assassination.
Three outputs from this project have been planned.
This blog is the first, with a documentary and fiction and non-fiction versions of a book planned for the next 12 to 24 months, all utilising web2 tools to spur media and public interest. ANA acknowledges months of assistance from Tagata Pasifika at TVNZ, and the Pacific Media Centre at AUT.
BEHIND THE HEADLINES
Growing numbers of French journalists are reporting on l'affaire JPK, slowly uncovering links to one bank, Clearstream, and an even bigger scandal.
Strangely, neither JPK or, even stranger, Clearstream feature large in English media.
Clearstream stands accused of hiding false assets as big as the entire US subprime meltdown, with secret bank accounts for a select 33,000 identities, a bank allegedly at the secret heart of geopolitical corruption and centuries-old financial power. This is not a théorie de la conspiration, or conspiracy theory, coming from a former vice president of the bank itself. A resultant book, Revelation$, co-authored with a French journalist, Denis Robert, saw other senior bank officials lose their jobs.
So far, however, authorities have not charged anyone with anything, apart from Robert, on defamation claims.