6 Jul 2005

Air Tahiti Nui allegedly paid US$3m to bail out three men in New York

3:45 pm on 6 July 2005

A French Polynesian assembly member, Hiro Tefaarere, has expressed his indignation that Air Tahiti Nui reportedly spent three million US dollars to bail out three young men in New York in April after they were arrested for a drugs offence.

The three men were in New York with President Oscar Temaru during a promotional trip ahead of the launch of the first direct flight between New York and Tahiti.

Mr Tefaarere says he disputes the claim by the tourism minister that the airline spent only 2,500 dollars to win their release.

He has told the news agency Tahitipresse that the consumption of crack is being subsidised with the promotion of Tahiti.

It is not known if the government or the airline paid the money, but Mr Tefaarere says it is a huge sum that the taxpayers had to provide.

The report makes no mention if the three men face legal consequences in French Polynesia for their alleged crime in the US.