Monday, December 29, 2008
An undated, hand-written letter outlining the abduction, torture and killing of a former Pape’ete editor was found at the home of a former French Polynesia president.
Police officers found the letter in a drawer during a raid on Flosse’s home in September 2008.
News of the find only emerged today.
Gaston Flosse at first refused comment, according to a report from AFP, later issuing a statement labelling the allegations “scandalous.”
Author of the letter is said to be Vetea Cadousteau, a former member of a secret spy cell who died in “very disturbing” circumstances, according to lawyers for a support committee of the editor, Jean-Pascal Couraud.
Handwriting analysis of the letter was “inconclusive”, said laywers James Lau and Max Gatti in a statement for Soutien JPK.
Further testing is needed to confirm the author of the letter of testimony, several pages long.
Lawyers for Flosse, a member of the French senate, dismissed the letter as a “set up”, part of a “plot”.
The letter claims to explain how Jean-Pascal Couraud was abducted, tortured to force him to confess where he had hidden files and how, when he was already half-drowned, a senior member of the DGSE gave orders to drop his body into 2,000 metres of water, tied to several fishing weights.
A few hours after the AFP report, Flosse released a statement to Agence Tahiti Presse from Fakarava, an outer island 432 kilometres north west of Tahiti.
Flosse attacked critics and press for continuing “to speak of kidnapping and murder of Jean-Pascal Couraud when, after more than 10 years since the disappearance of this journalist, nothing has come out to back this up. "
In his statement, Flosse said that he was guilty “merely of receiving an anonymous letter, describing alleged revelations about this case, like Oscar Temaru did in 2004, receiving testimony from Vetea Guilloux.”
Unlike testimony given to the Temaru administration, Flosse has never publicly referred to the letter.
Flosse backed away from dismissing the claims entirely.
“When you know that Vetea Guilloux been sentenced to prison for his testimony, there is no hasty conclusion to be drawn from this document.”
Backing up his warning against hasty conclusions, Flosse said he has “never been questioned by Justice in this case.”
Vetea Guilloux was a member of the same spy cell who, in October 2004, told a minister in the then new Temaru government he had overheard colleagues during a party at Kikiriri resort, drunkenly boasting about killing Couraud.
Today, Gatti said a second death of another Flosse spy allegedly involved in killing Couraud, Firmin Hauata, “goes deep.”
Their statement comes three years after an editorial alluding to the deaths was made by monthly news magazine, Tahiti Pacifique.
Cadousteau drowned in roughly 20 centimetres of water according to a November 2005 report referring to the trained diver as “V.C.” and Hauata as “F.H.”
Hauata died of a heart attack while building hurricane relief housing in Tonga despite being in “good health”, according to the Tahiti Pacifique editorial.
Officers in the raid came from DNIF, Division Nationale des Investigations Financières, French equivalent of a serious fraud squad.
DNIF officers are also looking into the Clearstream affair, a huge banking scandal linked with the disappearance of Couraud, known as JPK.
Facing numerous claims of corruption during a 30 year political career, the assassination allegation is by far the most serious for Flosse.
He drew long links between the statement from the JPK support committee and attempts by Paris authorities to undermine his political credibility.
Flosse questioned why “little known” lawyers would raise the names of Cadousteau and Hauata only today when they died four years ago.
Referring to himself in the third person, Flosse said that as “Senator Gaston Flosse plays a decisive role in political reconciliation in French Polynesia, he can only wonder about the values of certain state authorities knowingly manipulating judicial information for the sole purpose of trying to block a political consensus which does not meet with the consent of certain people in Paris.”
“Pure coincidence or deliberate?” he questioned.
“In any event, Gaston Flosse is unable to verify the allegations of counsel because, not being indicted, he does not have access to the file. These statements seem so ridiculous to judicial authorities that Gaston Flosse has never been summonsed.”
In a report headlined, “Letter’s discovery widens mystery around missing French Polynesian journalist” Radio New Zealand International reports that the spy cell in GIP, an emergency response group, Groupe d’Intervention de Polynésie was set up with “tacit knowledge of the French authorities.”
Contrary to French law against domestic surveillance by non-state groups, the GIP surveillance cell eavesdropped and recorded dozens if not hundreds of Flosse foes, friends; even lovers of former Flosse girlfriends.
One piece of testimony differs significantly from earlier accounts.
Guilloux testified that he had heard the agents talking about tying four concrete blocks to the half-drowned body of Couraud.
However according to today’s statement from the JPK committee lawyers, Couraud was tied to fishing weights.
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