3 Dec 2014

Doubt cast over legality of Tahiti compo claim

2:39 pm on 3 December 2014

The French high commissioner in French Polynesia has cast doubt on the legality of an assembly resolution which has asked for compensation for environmental damage caused by the French nuclear weapons tests.

Lionel Beffre

Lionel Beffre Photo: AFP

Lionel Beffre has told local television the assembly move may exceed its competence, adding that last week's vote for it was an unfriendly and sudden gesture towards France.

The resolution was passed by 36 of the assembly's 57 members, but lacked the support of the territorial government amid an unprecedented rift within the ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

Mr Beffre has likened the resolution to a hair falling into the soup because the Huiraatira programme makes no mention of any compensation for environmental damage due to the tests.

The resolution calls for France to own up to its nuclear past and for international experts to determine the compensation sum.

Mr Beffre says it is not up to him to apologise for the weapons tests.

Earlier, Mr Beffre dismissed calls for rent payments for the former test sites of Moruroa and Fangataufa as legally flawed, saying the two atolls were excised in 1964 and are now part of France's inalienable domain.

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