1 Mar 2017

Ex New Caledonia president given suspended jail term

7:23 am on 1 March 2017

A former president of New Caledonia Harold Martin has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence for corruption.

The appeal court in Noumea also declared Martin, who is a Congress member and a mayor, ineligible to hold public office for two years.

In 2015 Martin was found guilty of favouritism over the allocation of a US$29-million contract to an associate, Jean-Marc Bruel.

He had earlier been given a two-year sentence but the prosecutor Christian Pasta said the penalty was too severe.

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

He will reportedly challenge the sentence in France's highest court.

Mr Pasta had said the wrongdoing was of extreme seriousness, adding that it was similar to a banana republic where deals are struck on the public's back.

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