9 Nov 2015

Former New Caledonia president sentenced

5:51 pm on 9 November 2015
New Caledonia politician Harold Martin

New Caledonia politician Harold Martin Photo: RNZI

New Caledonia's criminal court has sentenced a former president, Harold Martin, to two years in jail, of which one year is suspended, over the way he awarded a large contract to an associate.

The court found Martin guilty of favouritism over the allocation of a US$29-million contract to an associate, Jean-Marc Bruel.

Martin was the board chairman of the publicly owned OPT telecommunications company when he defied the board to seal the deal.

The court also deprived Martin of his civic rights for five years.

Bruel was given a three-year prison term plus an $80,000 fine and banned from running a business.

His company has been ordered to pay a $450,000 US dollar fine and to be dissolved.

The prosecutor argued for Martin to jailed for betraying his public mandate.

Last week, his defence requested an acquittal, saying if it doesn't happen now, it would on appeal or once the matter was taken to France's highest court.

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