15 Sep 2009

French Senate considers whether to lift immunity of Gaston Flosse

5:54 am on 15 September 2009

The French Senate will today consider a new request by Tahiti judges to lift the Parliamentary immunity of the French Polynesian veteran politician, Gaston Flosse.

This is the second request forwarded by the French justice ministry as part of a financial probe of Tahiti's state-owned OPT telecommunications company.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Five people, including Mr Flosse's personal secretary, have been in prison for up to four months as part of an investigation into the alleged misuse of OPT money, now estimated to be in the range of ten million US dollars over a ten-year period. Mr Flosse, who has been accused of being central in a so-called corruption pact, was questioned in Paris in July when his immunity was partially lifted."

That first Senate decision allowed police to interrogate him twice but not to take him into custody. Since then, there have been a number of searches of a Papeete bank, offices and last week also talks with Mr Flosse's lawyer as the probe has now been widened to examine property deals linked to Mr Flosse.