10 Aug 2012

Tahiti police criticised over rape complaint process

3:54 pm on 10 August 2012

Laywers acting for a female French customs official who lodged a rape complaint in French Polynesia have criticised the way police have gone about their work.

Last month, the woman, who has been identified as a new French arrival, reported that she was raped by male colleagues while on duty on a patrol vessel last April.

One of her lawyers says police initially fetched her in the middle of the night for three hours of questioning, was exposed to a body search while being denied a lawyer.

The lawyer says in an unusual move, three police officers even entered her law firm to take the woman away for more questioning.

The police union says it disagrees with the lawyer's claims.

Last week, one of the lawyers acting for the accused said it was a scandal that any credibility was being given to the woman who had waited for two months to lodge her complaint.

Eight customs officials were detained but have been freed, with four of them charged with rape.