17 Jul 2013

Puputauki charged over French Polynesia journalist disappearance

12:51 pm on 17 July 2013

The jailed former head of the disbanded GIP militia in French Polynesia, Leonard Puputauki, has been charged with kidnapping in connection with the 1997 disappearance of a local journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

This comes three weeks after two of his former militia subordinates, Tutu Manate and Tino Mara, were charged with the journalist's murder - nine years after his family lodged a complaint with police.

The journalist's body has never been found but it is alleged the GIP attached breeze blocks on his limbs and drowned him off Tahiti.

Leonard Puputauki, who is also known as Rere Puputauki, is currently serving a jail sentence for involuntary homicide over the sinking in 2003 of the Tahiti Nui IV which claimed seven lives.

His lawyer says he wants the charges to be dropped, saying the case amounts to no more than an accumulation of rumours.

He says it is more likely that Yeti exists than that Mr Couraud was killed.