28 Sep 2009

French Polynesia's former President Gaston Flosse appeals conviction

6:30 am on 28 September 2009

French Polynesia's veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, has lodged an appeal in France's highest court after last week's conviction and ruling that he was to lose all his public offices.

The appeal court in Tahiti also gave him a suspended one-year jail sentence for abuse of public funds and said irrespective of an appeal, Flosse was to lose his French Polynesian assembly and French senate seat.

His lawyers say only the French constitutional council can strip him of his public offices once the Paris court has delivered its ruling.

The prosecution says while there is the appeal in Paris, the measures contained in the sentence in Tahiti already apply now.

The challenge comes as Flosse is to be charged this week in connection with the so-called OPT corruption affair which would pave the way for a new bid to be put to the French senate to have his parliamentary immunity lifted.

Six people, including his partner, Pascale Haiti, and his personal secretary, are in custody as part of the investigation.

This week, a decision is also due in Tahiti whether criminal charges will be laid against him in a further case, related to so-called fake employees on his pay roll when he was president.