JPK murder charges dropped against GIP pair
Murder charges relating to disappearance of French Polynesian journalist have been dropped against two members of the President's former militia group.
A French Polynesia appeals court has dropped murder charges against two men linked to the disappearance of journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud in 1997.
Tino Mara and Tutu Manate, who belonged to the now disbanded GIP militia of President Gaston Flosse, were last year charged with kidnapping but then a murder charge was added.
Earlier, phone tappings of conversations by the suspects appeared to implicate them in the journalist's killing.
However, as Alex Du Prel of the Tahiti Pacifique publication told Johnny Blades, these revelations have been discounted at the pre-trial stage.
ALEX DU PREL: What has happened is they have decided that these phone taps were illegal because they didn't have the right signature and the right explanation when they were ordered, so that kind of robs part of the smoking gun matter.
JOHNNY BLADES: Even though these indictments have been dropped against those two, the GIP still has to defend itself over the murder charge essentially, is that right?
ADP: While the murder charges were dropped against those two, they were not dropped towards Rere Puputauki, the boss, but this was also for technical reasons because he didn't introduce his request for dropping the charges within the assorted time. So we are more in to legalese than justice, that's for sure.
JB: Do you expect though that the GIP as a collective unit will face trial over this murder or will it just be the kidnapping?
ADP: Well the thing is, the GIP was an administration directly dependent of Mr Flosse's office. So if there is a trial for, let's say, wrongdoings by the GIP, then Mr Flosse will be held responsible. And this is why an army of lawyers even coming from France and everything have been fighting these charges all the time.
JB: Do you expect it will go to trial this year or next year?
ADP: My crystal bowl is cracked with French justice. It must be the slowest justice in the world. This is going back to 2004, it's ten years although it [the incident] goes back to 1997, and so I have no way and the problem is that justice is not really independent from the political end under the french set-up. Actually the European Court of Justice has mentioned it several times, it's worried about it. But there's always politics involved and right now Mr Flosse is the man in charge in Tahiti.
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