3 Sep 2003

French Polynesia brings in penalties to stop burning of territorial flag

4:37 am on 3 September 2003

The French Polynesian Assembly has approved penalties for dishonoring the territory's symbols, such as its flag.

The penalties include six months in prison and fines of over eight thousand US dollars.

They are the same as in the French penal code for dishonoring the national emblem.

The pro independence party, Tavini Huiraatira, burnt a flag during the visit of the French President, Jacques Chirac.

The leader of the party, Oscar Temaru, says French Polynesia can't have a flag until it becomes a sovereign state.

French Polynesia's Finance Minister, George Puchon, says the new penalties will put an end to activites such as flag burning