23 Apr 2010

Four-year jail term for former GIP boss over the sinking of Tahiti Nui IV

1:33 pm on 23 April 2010

The court of appeal in French Polynesia has given the head of the disbanded GIP intervention force, Rere Puputauki, a four-year jail sentence for involuntary homicide over the sinking in 2003 of the Tahiti Nui IV which claimed seven lives.

Puputauki was found responsible for the vessel's poor state and is to serve two years in prison, with the other two years suspended.

His deputy, Yannick Boosie, was given a three-year sentence, with two of them suspended.

The two were accused of having overused the vessel in June and July 2003 with sailings to Fakarava to prepare the atoll for an expected visit of the French President, Jacques Chirac.

Three days after the vessel sank on its way to Rimatara, the then President, Gaston Flosse, had said the ship had passed its annual checks.

Mr Flosse as the person ultimately at the top of the GIP can no longer be prosecuted because of a three-year statute of limitations.

Puputauki's lawyer has five days to appeal the conviction in Paris which would rule on any procedural error in the case.