19 Sep 2002

Prominent Kanak politician dies of burns suffered in mysterious accident

11:45 am on 19 September 2002

There have been expressions of anger and concern after the death of a prominent New Caledonian Kanak politician on Tuesday.

Eymard Bouanaoue, a Kanak member of the Territory's government, and spokesman for the break away pro-independence FCCI party, died in Sydney's Concorde hospital.

Our correspondent in Noumea, Tuo Chinula, has more.

"He was found lying in a bush area in Noumea, severly burnt, on July 31st. Twelve hours earlier, in the middle of the night, his car had caught fire in mysterious circumstances. Firefighters and police who arrived at the scene shortly after the fire began, found the car without its occupant. Some of Mr Bouanaoue's collegues and family suspect foul play and believe he was attacked, possibly for politically-motivated reasons. A colleague who visited him in hospital said Mr Bouanoue believed he was being followed on the night of the fire. But for the time being, the police are treating the affair as an accident. Mr Bouanoue has spent the evening in several pubs and they say it is possible he was driving under the influence of alcohol."