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PAPE‘ETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia (June 29, 2001, - Radio Australia/Tahitipresse)---An Appeal Court in Paris has discharged graft charges against the President of French Polynesia, Gaston Flosse, after earlier fining him US$ 1,900 for assisting the operation of an illegal gambling establishment.

The investigation focused on the financing of Flosse's political party and the involvement of Julien Ly Lem ("Hombo"), a gambling house operator in Pirae, Tahiti.

At the time, Flosse was Mayor of Pirae municipality.

A court ruling in November 1999 found Flosse guilty of accepting bribes.

Flosse said the funds were donations to his political organization, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party.

He was given a suspended prison sentence, a one-year suspension of his civic rights, and fined.

The Appeal Court public prosecutor had asked for an increase in the fine, claiming that it was illegal for mayors of French Polynesia to approve of gambling houses, while Flosse's lawyers asked for a discharge.

"Hombo" was fined US$3,200 for operating the illegal gambling establishment.

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