FORMER FRENCH POLYNESIA PRESIDENT BACK IN JAIL FOR A FEW DAYS

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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (Nov. 6, 2002 – Tahitipresse)---Former president of the government of French Polynesia, 54-year-old Alexandre Leontieff, went back to jail last week in Tahiti. He then was released on parole a few days later.

Leontieff, who was president from 1987 to 1991, had been convicted in several graft cases. The most well-known was related to the construction of a golf course in Opunohu, Moorea (Windward islands), by a Japanese company, when he was president of the government.

Leontieff had already spent 18 months in jail from 1999 to 2000 for a graft case involving a major Pape‘ete clinic ("Cardella" case). His last appeal has been turned down in Paris and he had to go back to prison last week in Tahiti. However, the Pape‘ete court released him on parole Nov. 5. The court said it based its decision on health and professional reasons.

A longtime political ally of current president of the government Gaston Flosse, Leontieff created his own party and became president of the government from 1987 to 1991.

He was elected in 1996 at the Assembly of French Polynesia as a member of the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party.

Leontieff said last year he preferred to quit politics. After a stunning reconciliation with Flosse, he became in September 2001 one of the main managers of a mixed-investment company in charge of social housing.

His brother, Boris Leontieff, president of the pro-autonomy Fetia Api party, disappeared along with four other persons, in May 2002, during a flight over the Tuamotu archipelago.

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.

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