5 November 2004


RSF calls for re-opening of investigation into journalist's disappearance

Incident details

Jean-Pascal Couraud



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(RSF/IFEX) - Seven years after the disappearance of investigative journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud, statements made by a man linked to the Groupe d'intervention de la Polynésie (GIP, the presidential police forces) may force the case to be re-opened.

RSF has called on State Prosecutor Jean Bianconi to refer the matter to examining Judge Jean-Bernard Taliercio, who was in charge of the investigation into the journalist's disappearance.

On 6 October 2004, Vetea Guilloux, a former member of the GIP, made shattering revelations to Housing Minister Gilles Tefaatau, an Adventist pastor and supporter of former president Oscar Temaru. Guilloux claimed to have witnessed Couraud's murder by GIP forces under the orders of President and former senator Gaston Flosse.

On 14 October, however, Guilloux presented a different version of the facts to the police. In a written confession, he claimed simply to have overheard, during a night of drinking, two GIP members bragging about committing the murder. Guilloux later retracted his statements after a confrontation with the two men. He was subsequently sent to a corrections tribunal for making libelous allegations and given a 12-month suspended sentence, three of which are to be without parole. He appealed the ruling on 25 October.

Taliercio, the investigating judge in charge of Couraud's case, was never informed of Guilloux's statements. He learned of them only later, when Guilloux was sentenced.

The investigation into Couraud's disappearance, which was closed in June 2002 because of a lack of evidence, could be re-opened at any moment citing the "emergence of new facts".

Couraud, an investigative journalist, was also a political opponent of Flosse. He disappeared on the night of 15 December 1997, after a meeting with his friend Boris Léontieff, another political opponent who died in a plane crash in 2002. In the period leading up to his disappearance, his family and friends claim that Couraud was very depressed. His body was never found. Because of the presence of elements pointing to a suicide, his family had not, until now, considered other explanations for his disappearance.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
rsf (@) rsf.org
Phone: +33 1 44 83 84 84
Fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51
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