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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (November 29, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---French Polynesia's President Gaston Flosse, who was found guilty last week of corruption by a Paris tribunal, has announced that he will not resign.

Last Wednesday, a court in Paris found Flosse guilty of "passive corruption." He was sentenced to a two-year suspended jail term and fined 100,000 French Francs (about US$ 20,000). He also was made ineligible to run for political office again for one year.

The case relates to funding for Flosse's political party, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira, provided by a local Chinese businessman, Julien Li Lem, who had obtained a license to operate a gambling establishment in Flosse's town of Pirae.

Flosse, in addition to serving as French Polynesia’s President, also is Mayor of Pirae.

Li Lem, in return for the favor, funded Flosse's party in the amount of approximately US$ 500,000.

"I will not resign and I will lead my party to another victory in the 2001 territorial elections," Flosse told reporters upon returning from Paris.

A crowd of over a hundred people was at Papeete's Faa'a International Airport to welcome Flosse.

"I am more determined than ever to fight to the end," Flosse said.

Flosse is appealing the Paris court ruling.

Late last week, opposition and pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru demanded Flosse's resignation "pending the appeal court ruling," for which no date has yet been fixed.

Flosse said, "I think the Court of Appeal will take some time before it hears the case. Then there will be the second appeal (the Cour de Cassation which, under the French legal system, hears appeals to Appeal rulings).

"And I think that by then, this will have taken us beyond the time of the elections," Flosse told RFO-radio last week in Paris.

"I have been sued in other similar cases. I lost in the first instance. I lost my appeal. Then I won in ‘Cassation.’ Therefore I'm very hopeful I can win this one again."

Meanwhile, the French Polynesian government, which Flosse heads, claimed "solidarity" late last week and a desire to "go on working under the leadership" of the 69-year-old French Polynesian leader.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: padec@iname.com 

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