FRENCH COMMISSION REJECTS DECLASSIFYING DOCUMENTS

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Defence Ministry investigated alleged murder of journalist in 1997

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 31, 2010) – A French national defence commission has spoken out against declassifying defence ministry documents as requested by the judge in French Polynesia investigating the 1997 disappearance of a Tahiti journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

The recommendation was made two weeks ago but has only been made public now.

There have been two successful and two failed bids by the investigators to get access to secret documents as the probe into the alleged murder of Mr Couraud is in its sixth year.

His family claimed he was killed after suggestions to that effect surfaced in 2004 - seven years after he had vanished.

Mr Couraud is reported to have had information about alleged financial transfers from French Polynesia to a Japanese account held by the then President Jacques Chirac - an issue linked to France’s so-called Clearstream affair.

Mr Chirac has denied that such an account existed.

It is now up to the defence minister, Alain Juppe, to decide whether to follow the commission’s advice.

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