15 Jan 2005

Tahiti Nui sinking report sparks political exchange

8:16 am on 15 January 2005

A report on the shipwreck of a state security service vessel has prompted a political row in French Polynesia.

The newspaper, Les Depeches de Tahiti, yesterday published extracts from an official report into the sinking of a GIP security service vessel.

Tahiti Nui IV sank in September 2003 with three deaths and four missing.

The party of former president Oscar Temaru says the administration of Gaston Flosse is legally responsible for the sinking.

It cites extracts from the report which say the vessel suffered from poor maintenance and there was a lack of communication between the vessel and the rescue centre at the time of the sinking.

The French Polynesian government refutes these claims, saying the official report was known to them before March last year.

It says it's stunned to see the report surface weeks before contentious by-elections in the Windward Islands.

The administration says the report is being used for partisan political ends, and to demean the security service.

The presidency says that the cause of the accident will be determined by a judicial inquiry which is still under way.