29 Oct 2013

French Polynesia's Flosse corruption case deferred until next year

2:54 pm on 29 October 2013

French Polynesia's court of appeal has deferred a case brought by French Polynesia's president, Gaston Flosse, to the end of June.

In January, the criminal court gave Mr Flosse a five-year prison sentence and a 110,000 US dollar fine for corruption as it did to a French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad.

The businessman had paid about two million US dollars in kickbacks over 12 years to Mr Flosse and his party to get public sector contracts from the OPT telecommunications company.

Last week, the defendants failed in their bid to get France's highest court to move the appeal case away from Tahiti after claiming they wouldn't get a fair trial.

However, they succeeded in putting off the case by eight months, arguing that lawyers based in France were not all available.

Only some of the defendants were present, including the tourism minister, Geoffry Salmon, and Gaston Flosse's secretary, Melba Ortas, who used to collect the cash payments from Hubert Haddad's company.

The lawyer acting on behalf of the OPT, James Lau, has meanwhile been relieved of his duties amid suggestions that it was a political decision, reflecting Gaston Flosse's election win in May.