Pouvanaa a Oopa death marked in French Polynesia

10:52 am on 12 January 2017

French Polynesia is this week marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Pouvanaa a Oopa, the formerly exiled political leader.

A statue of Pouvana a Oopa in French Polynesia

A statue of Pouvana a Oopa in French Polynesia Photo: RNZ/ Walter Zweifel

His jailing had been controversial but efforts by him, and then, his family to review his conviction have been without success.

After a controversial trial in 1959 for allegedly fomenting unrest, Pouvanaa a Oopa was jailed for eight years and exiled for 15, before being pardoned and allowed to return to Tahiti in 1968.

Five years ago an extraordinary sitting of French Polynesia's assembly unanimously passed a resolution asking the French justice ministry to review his conviction.

In 2012, the then French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, gave a special televised pre-election address to Tahiti, saying the files about Pouvanaa would be opened to allow for a possible re-trial.

Last year, President Francois Hollande laid a wreath on his grave, fuelling hope the ministry would order a retrial of the late politician as many believe he was the victim of what is being described as colonial justice.

Today a statue in his honour is in front of the territorial assembly and a key street in Papeete has been named after him.

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