Tahiti espionage case in court in March
Trial over illegal spying in Tahiti deferred until March.
French Polynesia's criminal court is to examine the now defunct and illegal espionage service of the disgraced former president Gaston Flosse.
A case was to go to court this week but the absence of a key lawyer has led to the trial being deferred until the last week of March.
Three years ago, France's highest court upheld the conviction of Flosse for obstructing the examination of the case and he was fined 16,000 US dollars for destroying all evidence pertinent to the espionage service.
The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, was in court this week.
ALEX DU PREL: What we have discovered is that they are going to hold a four-day trial, which means it is a really big trial. And what had been proved a few years back now it apparently turns out to be a bigger issue.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: How come it attains such seriousness now?
AP: We don't really know. Let me give you a brief history on that. In 2004 when Oscar Temaru for first time came to power he discovered that people knew about it but then got proof that Flosse had set up a spying organisation, financed with public money, and it cost - according to the General Accountants Office over here - about 100 million New Zealand dollars. And he was spying on everybody, on his ex-mistresses, on political opponents, on journalists, including myself, and anything that might put a shade on his power. Actually, my personal opinion is it was an expression of an island paranoia that was going on which was being jazzed up by secrets service guys that had been hired in France and sent over to set up this system.
WZ: It's slightly odd that you have France that is supposed to be the guarantor of law and order being implicated in apparently breaking the law. How could this happen?
AP: It was done with the unofficial knowledge of the French government and its representatives which were the High Commissioners in French Polynesia, but it was also known to the justice department to such a point that even the procureur de la republique, which is local state attorney of the time, used some of the services of this spying ring.
WZ: Do you think this trial will have repercussions for people in positions like that or is it only concentrated on the political side, i.e. Gaston Flosse?
AP: I don't know. One thing is sure that the protection that Mr Flosse had until 2004 and even beyond that until 2006 doesn't exist any more - that's for sure. And in all the procedures and in all the court cases that had been built against Mr Flosse before that time there were always errors of procedure and so on.
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