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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Aug. 31) – Papeete’s Administrative Tribunal issued its first decision yesterday in the hotly debated French Polynesia Assembly attempt to probe the effects of France’s nuclear testing, by dismissing an opposition appeal to suspend an inquiry commission.

The ruling considered that the "elements calendar" proposed by Gaston Flosse’s opposition Tahoeraa Huiraatira party are not decisive in this case. The ruling also said a letter sent to five Tahoeraa Assembly members appointed to the inquiry commission was not threatening.

Other appeals filed by Flosse’s party and the French State dealing with suspending the inquiry as well as the inquiry’s background remain to be decided by the court, according to a judicial source.

The French High Commissioner’s office in Papeete and Flosse’s party have launched legal action to block the Temaru government’s inquiry into the effects of France’s 41 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1966 and 1974 on the Tuamotu atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa. The inquiry focuses on whether nuclear fallout reached the Gambier Islands 450 km (280 miles) southeast of the testing sites, possibly causing health problems.

The French State questions the Temaru government’s decisions to set up the inquiry commission alongside an existing judicial system. Flosse’s party wants the commission limited to a given time period and geographical area.

Meanwhile, the inquiry commission continues to exist and operate under Chairperson Tea Hirshon, who is head of the Assembly’s Permanent Commission.

There has been a running battle of words in Tahiti’s news media between Flosse’s party and Ms. Hirshon. On Tuesday, Flosse’s party issued a communiqué saying that the inquiry commission’s only goal is to serve as a media platform for criticizing Flosse, his party and the French State.

And, in another communiqué, Ms. Hirshon emphasized the commission’s interest and claimed that the legal battle over the commission is an attempt by Flosse to not be associated with its work.

September 1, 2005


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