20 Jul 2009

French senate to decide this week over Gaston Flosse immunity

7:50 am on 20 July 2009

French Polynesia's veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, has flown back to Paris where the French senate will this week decide whether to take the unusual step of stripping him of his immunity as French senator.

The request was made by the French justice minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, as part of a comprehensive French Polynesian judicial probe into the so-called OPT affair which has already seen half a dozen people being put into the Tahiti jail.

Among them is a top French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad, who has been in detention for two months, for allegedly paying nearly two million US dollars in kickbacks to Mr Flosse for French Polynesian public sector contracts.

Mr Flosse has said he would go to jail if those held in connection with this case, including his long-term personal secretary, are freed.

He has just spent five days in Tahiti where he appeared in the court of appeal over a case of alleged misuse of public funds in 2004, with a verdict due in September.