19 Nov 2004

French Polynesia journalist disappearance case may re-open

4:46 pm on 19 November 2004

The appeal court in Papeete has ordered the conditional release of a man, Vetea Guilloux, who was jailed last month for libel over the disappearance of a French Polynesian journalist in 1997.

Vetea Guilloux, who is a former member of the GIP presidential intelligence service, was imprisoned for a year after implicating the GIP in the case.

But his lawyer, Stanley Cross, challenged the process used to detain and convict his client.

The fate of investigative journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud had been a mystery until Vetea Guilloux alleged that the GIP abducted and killed the journalist.

At the time of the disappearance, the GIP was headed by the-then president, Gaston Flosse, who told parliament last month that he never ordered or wished anybody's death.

Vetea Guilloux's lawyer says he is pleased with the appeal court ruling as it will allow to reopen the case.