Tahiti court hears defamation case against Le Monde

3:03 pm on 19 March 2015

The criminal court in French Polynesia has heard the defamation case brought against two French journalists over a book and a 2013 article in the French newspaper, Le Monde.

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Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

The court will deliver its ruling on 19 May in the case lodged by Gaston Flosse during the 2013 election campaign, after which he returned to power.

Flosse, who last year lost office because of a corruption conviction, says he was defamed because the journalists made a link between him and the 1997 disappearance of a Tahiti journalist, Jean Pascal Couraud.

His lawyer says the article made no mention of the two former militia members accused of kidnapping the journalist while it showed a picture of Flosse.

The defence says the issue is one of the freedom of the press, pointing out that the militia was under Flosse's control and his espionage unit had placed the journalist under surveillance.

In 2004, Flosse swore in the territorial assembly that he had never ordered anybody's death.

The police probe into the alleged kidnapping is in its 11th year amid expectations that the case could go to trial soon.

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