French Media Giants Focus On Missing Journalist
French Media Giants Focus On Missing Journalist
Jason Brown - Avaiki News Agency
Two French media giants are marking the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of former Pape'ete editor, Jean-Pascal Couraud, with independent investigations.
Second most popular in French radio, France Inter and leading daily newspaper Le Monde are both set to release indepth reports into allegations of assassination. Reportage seems sure to increase pressure on authorities previously foot dragging their way through official inquiries, now in their third year.
Couraud disappeared nearly one decade ago, on Monday night of 15th December 1997.
Initial findings of suicide remained unchallenged until October 2004.
Vetea Guilloux, a presidential security agent, told the administration of Oscar Temaru, then new, about widespread espionage activities in his surveillance section. Including, allegedly, overhearing colleagues boast about the mafia-style drowning of the investigative journalist - known by his byline "JPK".
Like Watergate, L'Affair JPK is becoming known for the crime as much as the coverup.
Low level inquiries attracted extraordinary resistance from inside the justice system. The original investigatory magistrate was sidelined by corruption allegations appearing out of nowhere; a replacement was appointed direct from Paris.
The new magistrate toyed coyly for two years before publicly declaring his desire to be relieved of the file, while privately instructing a commissioner of police to stop accepting any more evidence relating to Jean-Pascal Couraud.
Far from stopping, the inquiry has slowed down only to envelope an astonishingly large affair at the world's largest clearing bank, Clearstream. Similar to Enron - but one thousand times bigger, at roughly 1.5 trillion euros - Clearstream I and II emerged in 2001 when a former bank executive turned whistleblower.
As might be understood, official inquiries into Clearstream proceed slowly. Links with JPK emerged earlier this year, when a satirical newspaper, The Blue Dog, published copies of accounts of a bank in Japan with US $70 million in the names of Jacques Chirac and Gaston Flosse.
The papers were matched with those found in a dossier of documents collected privately by a former general of French secret services, regarding Clearstream, and 33,000 secret bank accounts run out of the clearing house under a secondary banking system.
From a small if deadly scandal on the far frontiers of the free French, L'Affair JPK has unexpectedly grown big enough to cause at least a few cracks in presidential masonry.
Not least because of the election of a former Chirac protege, Nicholas Sarkozy, now fairly bitter foes.
New president Nicholas Sarkozy marked a visit to Algiers this week by saying he "condemns" corruption during administration of the former French colony, directly attacking the record of once revered leaders who annointed Chirac.
In Tahiti, the renewed presidency of Oscar Temaru expressed hope Sarkozy would recognise similar circumstances when he visits French Polynesia next year.
There are signs he will.
In Paris, justice officials defied an aura of high-level immunity claimed for Chirac, charging him on 21st November 2007 with embezzlement over 20 fake jobs he gave out when he was mayor of the city.
Not so much a case of fresh independence of the French magistrates, perhaps, as a case of anti-Chirac officials finally getting their turn on the judicial merry-go-round.
News today will only reinforce that impression.
An appeal court in Paris has confirmed similar findings against Flosse and a folder of fake jobs worth EU 2.5 million - after corruption complaints laid in 2004 by the new Temaru government.
A few fake jobs might not seem a big deal, especially against a background of seemingly enormous scandal but like mafia investigators in the United States, sometimes you have to go with the small stuff; tax evasion, not assassination.
Attention from Le Monde and France Inter may yet prompt progress towards a different outcome.
Just how far remains doubtful.
After all, behind the scandals lies Paris, at the heart of European 'diplomacy' for centuries, a global centre for secret societies stretching back into mists of history. And, like Chirac, Sarkozy has fat cat friends of his own.
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