21 Apr 2008

French Polynesia's Vernaudon takes appeal to Paris

1:33 pm on 21 April 2008

The mayor of Mahina in French Polynesia, Emile Vernaudon, is taking his conviction for his role in a corrupt land deal to an appeal court in France.

This comes after an appeal court in Tahiti gave him a suspended one-year jail sentence and fined 40,000 US dollars as well as deprived of his civic rights for a year.

Last month, Vernaudon made history by becoming the first person under French jurisdiction to be elected mayor while being in jail.

He is free now but was held for four months as part of an ongoing investigation into theft and fraud dating back to his time as minister in charge of telecommunications and the postal service.

He is also the leader of the Aia Api Party which forms part of the French-backed To Tatou Aia coalition that managed to oust the seven-week old government this week.

Taking his case to Paris, Vernaudon can remain mayor of Mahina.