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Former French Polynesia president could lose immunity

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 1, 2009) – French Polynesia’s veteran politician, Gaston Flosse, has been charged with corruption and complicity to destroy evidence.

This comes after investigative judges questioned him in Tahiti for several hours in connection with the probe into the affairs of the OPT telecommunications company.

He is alleged to be at the centre of what the prosecutors claim is a pact of corruption amid accusations that the head of a French advertising agency paid US$2 million in kickbacks to Flosse and his party for public sector contracts.

The judges are now considering making a fresh bid to have his parliamentary immunity as senator lifted.

Flosse’s lawyer have now asked for the OPT investigation to be moved where the judiciary is more detached and the climate less passionate.

Last week, Flosse was convicted for abuse of public funds over a 2004 election night reception with the appeal court stripping him of his mandate as senator and French Polynesian assembly member.

Although the ruling was sent to the constitutional council in Paris to complete the process, it has neither acted nor indicated when it will act.

Flosse has also appealed the Tahiti conviction to France’s highest court.

This week, French Polynesia’s examining magistrate also decided to send the case involving the so-called fake employees to the criminal court.

The case is the biggest of its kind seen in French legal history and involves 94 people, including Flosse, who is accused of abusing public funds to pay people for jobs they didn’t perform.

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