5 Mar 2008

French lawyer appalled over French Polynesia's jail

2:47 pm on 5 March 2008

A top French lawyer, Francis Szpiner, says the main jail in French Polynesia is unworthy of the French republic and should be razed.

Mr Szpiner made the comment as defender of the Aia Api leader, Emile Vernaudon, who has been in the Nuutania prison for more than 90 days as investigations into his alleged wrongdoing continue.

Mr Vernaudon is suspected of misusing more than a million US dollars as the minister in charge of the post office.

Mr Szpiner, who has been working on behalf of French politicians Jacques Chirac and Alain Juppe, now wants fresh medical expertise to secure Mr Vernaudon's release.

He is standing for the mayoralty in Mahina this weekend but while missing out on standing in the territorial election, his wife, Heifara Izal, filled the slot on the list and secured an assembly seat.

In January, a march was held in his support in Papeete, with calls for him to be set free.