8 Jul 2009

France keeps lid on documents sought in probe of missing Tahiti journalist

10:27 am on 8 July 2009

A French national defence commission has refused to declassify three secret service documents requested by the judge in French Polynesia investigating the 1997 disappearance of a Tahiti journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

The French defence minister has agreed to accept the commission's position on the documents whose nature has not been revealed.

Earlier bids for access to secret service documents were approved.

The investigation into the alleged murder of Mr Couraud is in its fifth year.

Mr Couraud is reported to have had information about financial transfers from French Polynesia to a Japanese account held by the then President Jacques Chirac - an issue linked to France's so-called Clearstream affair.

The existence of such an account became public after records were found in the possession of a former top French intelligence officer, General Philippe Rondot, whose testimony is central to the Clearstream affair.

Mr Chirac has denied that such an account existed.