8 Jul 2005

French Polynesia assembly debates New York drugs case

4:18 pm on 8 July 2005

There has been a debate in the French Polynesian assembly over the release of three French Polynesian men who were arrested for drug offences in New York in April.

An assembly member, Hiro Tefaarere, maintains that three million US dollars was paid to free the three men who were part of a delegation led by President Oscar Temaru to promote Air Tahiti Nui's direct flights from New York to Papeete.

The airline has confirmed that it advanced just under 3000 US dollars to pay for fines and lawyers' costs and the tourism minister, Jacqui Drollet, has produced documents to confirm this.

But Mr Tefaarere says he has other documents but declined to table them.

He says the matter is not closed while Mr Drollet says everything is settled.