19 Apr 2011

Highest court in France may hear Flosse case

4:11 pm on 19 April 2011

The biggest trial in French Polynesia's history could go to France's highest court to determine if the accusations are in line with the Human Rights Declaration.

The case, involving 87 defendants, centres on allegations that in the 1990s veteran politician Gaston Flosse began mis-spending millions of dollars of public funds.

It is alleged Mr Flosse kept journalists, unionists, clergymen and other officials on his administration's payroll to support his political party, Radio New Zealand International reports.

At the trial's opening on Tuesday, Mr Flosse's lawyer invoked a new French constitutionality clause to challenge the accusations.

The court will say on Wednesday whether the challenge stands.

In March, one of Mr Flosse's lawyers used the same clause to give former French president Jacques Chirac a reprieve on charges of channelling public money into phantom jobs for political cronies while he was the mayor of Paris.