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Former president Flosse denies involvement with missing

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, January 21, 2009 – Veteran Tahitian politician Gaston Flosse went on the offense Wednesday in the nearly 4.5-year-old so-called "JFK case", continuing to claim his innocence, but also attacking the Paris and Papeete news media.

Flosse, one of Tahiti's two senators in the French Senate, was joined by his attorney and Tahoera'a Huiraatira political party members during a press conference held in the French Polynesia Assembly's Committee Room.

The subject was the recent on-going media coverage of the 1997 disappearance of former local French journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud. Flosse said during the press conference he plans to file a complaint against several local media operations. He mentioned French language daily newspaper Les Nouvelles de Tahiti, Tahitipresse, France Télévisions' RFO.

In a five-page document he presented to the media Wednesday, Flosse said, "I tried to demonstrate that honest media are, like me, victims of manipulation. Now, since the court does not feel it necessary to implicate me in this case, I have decided to fight with other weapons against those who continue to implicate me indiscriminately.

"I have no choice but to go to the courts to stop such dishonorable behavior," the Flosse document continued. For the media operations, Flosse said, "I have done so against" France Télévisions' France 3 network; Agence France-Presse, a French news agency, and one of its Tahiti correspondents, Erick Monod; and Tahiti Pacifique, a monthly news magazine published in Tahiti.

He also said he planned to go to court against Couraud's brother, Philippe, who Flosse accused of using the media against him "knowing that I do not have the opportunity to defend myself".

Flosse said his goal was to "dismantle the rumor mill that consists of involving him" in Couraud's disappearance. The senator pointed out that in four court decisions already handed down he had "never been implicated."

The "JPK case" has involved judicial investigations in Paris and Papeete and has involved allegations concerning former French President Jacques Chirac and an alleged plot against Flosse by the current Sarkozy government in France.

Flosse claimed that what is involved is "a political matter completely staged by the Taui", a reference to the slogan using the Tahitian word for change that became popular after pro-independence party leader Oscar Temaru was elected Tahiti's president for the first time in June 2004.

Flosse accused Hiro Tefaarere of having started the "JPK case" on Oct.9, 2004 when he told the French Polynesia Assembly that he had heard voices from the bottom of the ocean. That has since been spun into a theory many times repeated in the media coverage that Couraud had allegedly been murdered and his body dumped into the ocean.

The constant claim has been that Flosse was somehow allegedly involved in Couraud's disappearance because of an investigation he had begun as a local journalist and reportedly was continuing while working at the Arue Town Hall on Tahiti's north coast.

Flosse claimed Wednesday that the "JPK case" that began in 2004 was "a political affair mounted against me" at the moment when his political party had begun a vote of no confidence procedure to topple Temaru's five-month-old government.

Although agreeing that Temaru and his supporters had allegedly begun the movement against him, Flosse said he had never discussed the case with Temaru and never asked him to withdraw his complaints."

Adding that he did not want to discuss Temaru's complaints during the press conference, Flosse also said, "His charges are before the court, and I want the court to go right to the end."

While Flosse and Temaru had been on opposite sides of the political fence for many years by 2004, they are now on the same side, having formed a united opposition in 2007 that toppled the first Tong Sang government. Their UDSP (Union for Development, Stability and Peace) coalition remains the opposition today against the second Tong Sang government, which has been in power since last April.

Today, Temaru is the French Polynesia Assembly's speaker


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