9 May 2016

Kanak chief's assault case bound for Paris court - report

5:27 am on 9 May 2016
A Kanak chief from New Caledonia, Berge Kawa.

A Kanak chief from New Caledonia, Berge Kawa. Photo: AFP

A Kanak chief in New Caledonia, upset at a non-custodial sentence for assaulting a tourist, wants to take his case to France's highest court.

Berge Kawa, who is 69, was freed from prison last month when the court of appeal gave him a four-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay the victim US$1,000.

His lawyer told the territory's daily newspaper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, that he would take the matter to Paris because the chief denied that he threatened, hit or cut anyone with his sword.

In March, he was convicted and jailed for a year for assaulting a tourist who he said had taken a photo of a tribal house without authorisation.

He was sent to prison because he failed to turn up for the original trial, but was released when the appeal court amended his sentence.

His jailing caused protests, with the customary senate lodging a complaint with the prosecution and expressing its incomprehension at his treatment.