20 May 2009

Tahiti Pacifique publisher confident ahead Paris court's defamation ruling

1:57 pm on 20 May 2009

The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, says he is confident that a Paris court will throw out the defamation claim brought by the French prosecutor in French Polynesia, Jean Bianconi.

The case, which has just been heard in Paris, relates to an article published two years ago about the 1997 disappearance of a Tahitian journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

Investigations into his alleged murder by the GIP militia of the then French Polynesian president, Gaston Flosse, are now in their fifth year.

Mr du Prel, who had earlier testified via a video link, says the defence lawyer detailed how the judiciary was partial in protecting Mr Flosse and his associates.

He says one example is how the GIP leader seized the assembly with impunity.

"Imagine that in Paris you would have a militia attack the National Assembly, the Elysee Palace and so on and then they chase them out and there is no judicial follow-up."

Alex du Prel says a ruling in the defamation case is due in June.