30 Dec 2008

Letter's discovery widens mystery around missing French Polynesian journalist

2:26 pm on 30 December 2008

French investigators are reported to have found a letter about the 1997 disappearance of a French Polynesian journalist, Jean Pascal Couraud, during a search of the home of the veteran politician Gaston Flosse.

The disclosure was made to the news agency AFP by two lawyers acting on behalf of the Couraud family who lodged a murder complaint four years ago when a former spy working in behalf of Mr Flosse claimed that the

journalist was kidnapped and drowned off Tahiti by members of the so-called GIP intervention force.

The latest report says the letter was written by another former GIP member, Vetea Cadousteau who detailed the abduction, the torturing and killing of the journalist.

Mr Cadousteau's body was found dead in a Tahiti valley nearly five years ago, with experts now trying to determine the authenticity of the document.

Another former GIP member, named in the letter as an accomplice in the alleged murder, has also died in circumstances which the lawyers say need to be explored.

Mr Flosse has declined to respond to the lawyers' comments.

In 2004, Mr Flosse told the assembly in Tahiti that he never wished nor ordered anybody's death.

Mr Flosse was president at the time of Mr Couraud's disappearance and was in charge of an illegal intelligence unit that operated with the tacit knowledge of the French authorities.