6 Oct 2006

Paris court throws out Guilloux's conviction in Tahiti

2:40 pm on 6 October 2006

Reports from French Polynesia say France's highest criminal court has thrown out a conviction of a former French Polynesian spy, Vetea Guilloux.

The Tahitipresse news agency says the one-year jail sentence handed down was in excess of what the penal code allowed as maximum punishment for malicious slander.

Guilloux was convicted in 2004 and again on appeal in 2005 for his allegations that fellow spies working for the then president abducted and drowned a journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud, off Tahiti in 1997.

When the claim was made public in the French Polynesian assembly in 2004, Guilloux was immediately arrested and convicted.

But he was freed shortly afterwards when his lawyer challenged the procedure of the prosecutor and the police.

With Guilloux's conviction now quashed the case will go back to an appeal court, this time not in Tahiti, but in Paris.

The journalist's family lodged a murder complaint after Guilloux's disclosure but they say progress in the investigation has been slow.