1 Feb 2010

Verdict in French Polynesia ship sinking case due in April

1:19 pm on 1 February 2010

French Polynesia's court of appeal will give its verdict in April in the case brought over the sinking of the Tahiti Nui IV which sank off Rimitara in 2003, killing seven sailors.

The prosecution wants the former head of the now disbanded GIP group, Rere Puputauki, to be jailed for five years for involuntary homicide as a result of the poor state of the vessel operated by the GIP.

He stands accused of having overused the vessel in June and July 2003 with sailings to Fakarava to prepare the atoll for an expected visit of the French President, Jacques Chirac.

The GIP was formed as a militia-like unit by a former president, Gaston Flosse, and provided among other things shipping services but also accommodated an espionage unit, whose activities, although illegal, were tacitly tolerated by the French authorities.

The appeal court verdict will be released on April the 22nd.