RSF condemns killing of radio journalist – shot in Philippines

Philippine radio journalist Joey Llana … shot at least 14 times in ambush as he drove to work at Radio DwZR in Legazpi City. Image: RSF Paris

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the killing of Philippine radio journalist Joey Llana near Legazpi City, at the southeastern tip of the island of Luzon, and has called on the authorities to do everything possible to find those responsible.

Joey Llana, 38, was gunned down yesterday as he drove to work at Radio DwZR in Legazpi City, where he hosted a morning radio programme, reports the Paris-based global media freedom watchdog RSF.

Local police said he was hit at least 14 times in the head and body by shots fired by five unidentified gunmen.

The police have not yet identified a motive but a relative said Llana had recently received death threats, which suggested that he had been targeted in connection with his work.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, condemned the murder and said it would be investigated by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.

We condemn radio journalist Joey Llana’s murder in the strongest terms as it is a serious press freedom violation, and we welcome the decision by the president’s office to open an immediate investigation and its declared desire to render justice to the victim,” a statement from RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said.

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“The Philippines, which is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in Asia, must do everything possible to effectively combat violence against the media and impunity for this violence.”

Third journalist killed
If the initial suspicions are confirmed, Llana will be the third journalist to have been murdered this year in the Philippines in connection with their work, reports RSF.

Newspaper journalist Dennis Denora was slain in a similar fashion in the southern province of Davao del Norte in June, as was radio show host Edmund Sestoso in the central province of Negros Oriental in May.

At least six other journalists have been killed in connection with their work since Duterte, who is prone to virulent verbal attacks on the media, was elected president in 2016.

The Philippines fell six places in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index and is now ranked 133rd out of 180 countries.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

20 years on, the disturbing case of journalist ‘JPK’ is still unsolved

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: 20 years on, the disturbing case of journalist ‘JPK’ is still unsolved

By Walter Zweifel of RNZ Pacific

It’s 20 years today since French Polynesian journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud vanished.

“JPK”, as he was widely known, left no trace, no body has ever been found. There is conjecture and speculation – and there are denials. Murder charges have been laid and they have been dropped.

Police investigations have been running since 2004 but for the lawyers of those suspected of kidnapping JPK “it’s more likely that yeti exists than Jean-Paul Couraud was murdered.”

Today, members of his family are at his empty grave in Punaaiua, remembering a son, a father, a brother.

They remain convinced that in 1997 he was the target of foul play and killed for researching the affairs of the then strongman and president Gaston Flosse.

Until 2004, Couraud’s family was led to believe that he might have committed suicide.

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However, amid the political upheaval of that year, a former spy of the now disbanded intelligence service of Flosse told a minister that the journalist had been drowned.

Hit like a bomb
When the claim by Vetea Guilloux was repeated in the Territorial Assembly in the middle of a no-confidence debate into the pro-independence Temaru government, it hit like a bomb.

According to Guillox, two employees of the GIP militia, Tino Mara and Tutu Manate, kidnapped Couraud, maltreated him and after tying breeze blocks onto his body, they dumped him into the depth of sea between Tahiti and Moorea

The GIP was an unarmed militia led by Rere Puputauki, who in turn reported to Gaston Flosse.

Another branch of the Flosse apparatus at the time was an intelligence unit run by a former French spy, whose tasks included keeping an eye on political rivals and Gaston Flosse’s mistresses.

Vetea Guilloux was in the intelligence unit, his father had a top job within the GIP.

In the feverish political climate in late 2004, Guilloux was immediately arrested, tried, sentenced and jailed for slander.

The Couraud family, however, lodged a formal murder complaint, triggering an investigation which is yet to be concluded.

Switched sides
Gaston Flosse, meanwhile, succeeded in getting a Temaru supporter to switch sides and oust his first pro-independence government.

Defying the assembly leadership, he arranged a presidential election to be returned to power and while giving a policy speech, he swore that he had never ordered anybody’s death.

Investigative journalist Jean-Pascal Couraud … drowned by assassins? The headstone on his empty grave in Punaaiua, Tahiti, says: 20 May 1960-15 December 1997 – “he struggled for more democracy, more justice and against all forms of corruption.” Image: AFP/RNZ Pacific

Like many observers, the publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly Alex du Prel noted Flosse’s surprising declaration.

“He said he never gave orders for anybody to kill and everybody believed him. But he didn’t say nobody ever was killed.”

The case had an echo even in France where national television networks dispatched reporters to Tahiti. Also, Le Monde paid close attention to the JPK affair.

Gaston Flosse claimed he had been defamed by France 3 and took unsuccessful court action against its chief executive and a reporter.

He also pursued Le Monde for linking him to the 1997 disappearance of Jean-Pascal Couraud.

Slow investigation
JPK’s brother, Philippe Couraud, noted that the investigations were slow.

“The problem we had was between 2004 and 2007, three years, and it was very difficult. At this time, I was sure that the Justice did not want to help us. I mean, not Justice but the men who were there. So that’s why at this time, everything was organised to stop the enquiries.

JPK’s mother told TV reporters at the time about her disappointment with the judicial machinery, suggesting there had been obstruction.

Alex du Prel confirmed that: “We had state attorneys who admitted themselves that they had been appointed to protect Mr Flosse, and they did that job quite well actually.”

As a former minister in the Chirac government, Gaston Flosse had enjoyed cordial ties with Paris for a couple of decades, not least because he was a staunch supporter of the French nuclear weapons testing regime.

Things changed in 2007 when Jacques Chirac was replaced as president by Nicolas Sarkozy.

Pent up corruption complaints started to find their way through the courts and now Gaston Flosse is ineligible to hold public office having also become the most sentenced politician in contemporary France.

Murder charges
In 2013, the JPK affair saw murder charges being brought against Tutu Manate and Tino Mara after investigators surreptitiously recorded their phone conversations.

A year later, the charges were dropped over an apparent technicality.

“The phone taps were illegal because they didn’t have the right signature and the right explanation when they were ordered, so that kind of robs the smoking gun”, said du Prel.

Rere Puputauki failed to challenge the murder charge in time.

What is left are kidnapping charges against the three GIP men.

As for a possible motive for a killing, Philippe Couraud said he believed his brother had documents that could have damaged Gaston Flosse and his associates in Paris.

JPK had a career at the local newspaper Les Nouvelles de Tahiti and became its editor but was forced to quit under pressure from Flosse.

He subsequently joined the opposition politician Boris Leontieff as an advisor and worked for him when he disappeared.

Sensitive information
His brother Philippe said JPK had sensitive information.

“We discovered a paper of 12 to 13 pages which was in possession of my brother, and in fact it was because he had this information that he was killed,” he said.

Du Prel said the papers pointed to money being channelled via Japan, possibly to an account held by Jacques Chirac.

“At the time, they were looking into financing over in Tahiti and they saw that part of the money had gone to Japan. So the local representative to the state attorney had asked Paris for help to define where the money would have gone in Japan and he got a message back saying stop, do not enquire in that direction, you’re getting close to the top of the state. That, I published at the time and nobody ever denied it.

French media reports however said Japanese authorities had found no record of any bank account alleged to have been held by Chirac.

This came despite a French secret service report in 1996 mentioning it.

Whatever the possible reason for JPK’s disappearance, Philippe Couraud remains convinced his brother was killed.

“We are absolutely certain that my brother has been assassinated, and everybody who can read the files has the same conclusion,” he said.

Twenty years later and after 13 years of investigations, the only person taken court has been Vetea Guilloux for claiming JPK had been killed.

No wonder, there is the French expression ‘justice á deux vitesse’ – two-speed justice.

Walter Zweifel is a senior journalist with RNZ Pacific and a specialist in French Polynesian affairs. This article had been republished with permission.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Indonesians fear Duterte-style assassinations, drug war

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Indonesians fear Duterte-style assassinations, drug war

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Indonesian President Joko Widowo (right) takes a look at seized drugs in Jakarta last December before they were destroyed. Image: Bay Ismoyo/UCAN

By Katharina R. Lestari in Jakarta

Church officials and human rights activists believe Indonesia could be heading down the same path as the Philippines after the head of the country’s anti-narcotics agency recently issued a statement encouraging the shooting of drug traffickers trying to evade arrest.

They pointed to an incident on February 3 when National Narcotics Agency officers shot dead an unarmed Malaysian national as he tried to flee during a drug-smuggling bust in Jakarta.

The man allegedly tried to smuggle around 14 kg of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia by boat.

“Do not hesitate to shoot drug traffickers, drug dealers and drug users,” agency head Budi Waseso had said in December last year.

That same month President Joko Widodo claimed that 15,000 people died every year because of drugs, and called on the agency to increase its efforts to crack down on the drugs trade.

Widodo promised to come down hard on drugs and vowed to execute all drug traffickers when coming to power in October 2014.

The church and rights activists have likened the rhetoric to that of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs.

7000 killed in Philippines
At least, 7000 people have been killed in incidents linked to Manila’s anti-drug campaign, according to rights groups.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, coordinator of the law and human rights division of the Indonesian Bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, called the National Narcotics Agency chief’s comments as incitement to “murder.”

“It is more cruel than the death penalty because criminals will be killed before they have a chance to be brought to court,” he said.

“Shooting people dead to prevent violence is counterproductive,” said Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, director of the U.N.-affiliated rights and social justice group Vivat International Indonesia.

Such a policy, he added, was against a person’s right to life, which could not be taken away by anyone including the state and law enforcement officers.

Natalius Pigai from the National Commission on Human Rights said law enforcement officers should question such comments from their leaders if they appeared to contravene the law.

“Do things according to the law otherwise it is abuse of power,” he said.