Tahiti's Flosse acquited in 2002 atoll purchase case
Tahiti's Flosse acquitted in atoll purchase case.
The President of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, has been acquitted of corruption over the purchase of an atoll at an overvalued price.
Flosse, along with five other defendants, were accused of abusing public funds by paying a leading pearl producer, Robert Wan, nine million US dollars to buy Anuanuraro atoll.
The six accused included a former president Gaston Tong Sang who was the lands minister at the time and Georges Puchon, who was in charge of finance.
The sum was five times the atoll's value but Flosse's lawyer argued that it wasn't a criminal matter but a political decision of the government to buy the land.
The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, has been following the case.
ALEX DU PREL: The complaint was deposited ten years ago by Mr Temaru. At the time we had a State Attorney who was very much in favour of Mr Flosse. So it's very possible that when they wrote the text, court case would be built that they put what we call "mines", "explosives" in the middle to ensure that later on the court case might not end up and then of course you give the plan of the "mine-field" to Mr Flosse's lawyers. So I think we are in a case like that but this is a personal opinion.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: Now in the time of the investigation, there was a lot of finger pointing between the different accused. It seems to be odd that they were shifting blame when in the end, essentially, there was no case to answer.
ADP: Well, you know, this is like the cruise ship sinking. Everybody is trying to get out and this doesn't show the best strength of character of some of our ministers. In any case, under any Flosse government, the ministers only have only one alternative. That is to do what Flosse has told them to do.
WZ: The prosecution has in an instant reaction to the verdict said that they might appeal. How likely is it given that we are awaiting key decisions from the courts in connection with Gaston Flosse's career?
ADP: There are many other cases. Don't forget we still have the one with the Post Office and Haddad. That has been sabotaged too so it's gonna have to be, a new trial will have to be set. Then we have, another problem is that, in the past Mr Flosse since less than five years has been condemned several times and every time he was suspended sentence. Under French law, when you get condemned again under the same accusation within five years then a suspended sentence should pop. So we have the strange thing is that nothing is popping. We've had so many surprises with Mr Flosse in front of the court and he always wiggles through. No one is willing to bet anything.
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