Volume 96, Issue 12
Wednesday September 18, 2002

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Dele still missing

PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) – Public prosecutors in Tahiti opened a murder investigation Monday into the disappearance of former NBA player Bison Dele and two of his companions.

Deputy prosecutor Lionel Bounan said Investigating Judge Jean-Bernard Taliercio was given charge of the case, but Bounan couldn't confirm whether a full FBI team of 13 experts had arrived in Tahiti, or when a search of Dele's abandoned boat would begin.

The 55-foot boat, the Hakuna Matata, was found docked in the east coast Tahitian port of Taravao last Thursday, a day before the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Dele's brother. The boat's name had been removed and was registered under a new name, Aria Bella.

Investigators are looking for former NBA player Bison Dele, formerly known as Brian Williams, and Serena Karlan, who were last seen July 8. Also missing is Bertrand Saldo, the captain of Dele's catamaran. The thirty-three-year-old Dele, Karlan and Saldo were planning to sail from the South Pacific island to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Earlier, police officials said French authorities agreed to delay a full search of the boat until the arrival of the FBI team, expected sometime Monday. A cursory search by French authorities found no blood stains or other signs of foul play.

The group set out on May 2 from Auckland, New Zealand, with Dele's older brother, Miles Dabord, accompanying them, said police officials in Tahiti, which is French territory.

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2002 THE GAZETTE