27 Jun 2013

Tahiti defence dismissive of JPK murder charge

3:21 pm on 27 June 2013

The defence lawyer for the two French Polynesian men accused of kidnapping and killing a journalist in 1997 says he wants the charges to be dropped.

Yesterday, the two members of the disbanded presidential GIP militia, Tutu Manate and Tino Mara, were charged with the murder of Jean-Pascal Couraud - nine years after his family lodged a complaint with police.

In 2004 when a former spy, Vetea Guilloux, first made the murder claim, he was immediately arrested and jailed for slander, but last year he repeated the allegations, which have reportedly been backed up by additional testimony.

The lawyer of the two accused, Francois Quinquis, has told local media that he welcomes the formal indictment because this gives him for the first time access to the case files.

He says if his clients had been involved in what they are accused of, they would have been taken straight to prison.

The two suspects are not allowed to leave the territory and must report to police weekly as the interrogation of further suspects is expected.