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Former French Polynesia President contesting conviction

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 11, 2012) – A date has been set for the appeal court in French Polynesia to hear the case of 44 people, including a former president Gaston Flosse, convicted for being part of a network of phantom jobs.

Flosse was found to have run an illicitly funded system through much his tenure to advance the policies of his ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party.

According to the Nouvelles de Tahiti, the appeal will be heard in October, which could clear the many convicted politicians to be able to stand in next year’s elections.

The original trial last May was the biggest of its kind in French legal history, implicating a total of 87 people, including top politicians, former and current mayors, unionists, journalists and sports administrators.

[PIR editor’s note: French Polynesia’s state lawyer in the case demanded that the accused pay back, in full, almost US$30 million that had been laundered over more than a decade of corrupt practices. The defense contended that the case was intended to destroy the lives of the implicated individuals who had contracts for work with past president Flosse approved through French officials.]

Flosse, who is also one the territory’s two senators, was given a four-year jail sentence and fined 110,000 U.S. dollars.

A former president of the assembly, Justin Arapari, was given a two-year prison sentence.

The territory’s two members of the French assembly, Michel Buillard and Bruno Sandras, were also fined and given suspended prison sentences.

Should they lose their appeal, they can take their case to France’s highest court.

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