13 Jul 2012

Tahiti police detain self-styled king

11:18 am on 13 July 2012

Police in French Polynesia have detained the self-styled king of the so-called Pakumotu republic amid his continued defiance of the French authorities.

Local radio says Athanase Terii has been taken into custody after he and several of his supporters wanted police to release several group members who had been arrested yesterday.

Mr Terii has been arrested with dozens of his backers, some of whom are reported to be transferred to Tahiti's prison.

Reports say the police have searched the group's premises, seized marijuana plants and pulled down its Pakumotu flag.

He is being accused of among other things fraud, rebellion and illegal assembly for issuing and using invalid identity cards and drivers licences.

Last week, police ended the occupation of a disused hospital by the Pakumotu group which claimed to be the rightful owners of the land.

He has been defying the French state for more than two years, refusing to recognise its authority.