FRENCH AUTHORITIES SEARCH YACHT IN CONTINUING TAHITI INVESTIGATION OF NBA

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WILLIAMS’ DISAPPEARANCE

PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia (September 17, 2002 – Tahitipresse)---French Prosecutor Michel Marotte led a meticulous two-hour search of the yacht "Hakuna Matata" on Sept. 16, accompanied by FBI agents in the continuing investigation of former National Basketball Association player Brian Williams’ disappearance.

Some 20 persons -- French gendarmes and FBI agents from California and Australia -- boarded the 55-foot luxury catamaran during the afternoon at the Phaëton Bay Marina where the yacht has been under gendarme guard since Sept. 12.

The marina is located 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Pape‘ete.

The disappearance of Williams, a former Chicago Bulls player, his partner, Serena Karlan, 30, and French yacht skipper Bertrand Saldo is the subject of a joint investigation by French and American authorities.

French Investigating Magistrate Jean-Bernard Taliercio and four policemen broke a padlock barring access to the yacht and then went below to carefully inspect the interior. The results of their search are expected to be announced shortly.

Investigators Hold Coordination Meeting

The Sept. 16 investigation began with a morning coordination meeting of 25 gendarmes and FBI agents at the Sheraton Hotel Tahiti, where the American investigators are based.

Among persons who continue to provide clues for investigators, a sailor in Pape‘ete told of his attempt to visit the yacht in July when it was anchored at Taina Marina, 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the capital city. He said he had to turn back. "There was a blond woman sitting in a garden chair aboard the catamaran. She seemed to be nervous, and a tall man went below when I approached the boat."

Among other witnesses, one confirmed that he had seen Kevin Williams, the brother of the missing Brian Williams, drunk at Taina Marina.

Kevin flew out of Tahiti on July 18, airport police reported.

[SEE: LINK: New Zealand Herald: Basketball Star’s Strange Vanishing Act In French Polynesia]

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.

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