2 Feb 2006

Convicted French Polynesian minister Vernaudon to keep public office

11:35 am on 2 February 2006

The prosecution in French Polynesia has declined to seek an appeal in a top Paris court following last week's decision by a Tahiti court to allow a convicted government minister, Emile Vernaudon, to remain in office.

Vernaudon was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and a 30,000 US dollar fine for corruption but the judges allowed him to keep his position as minister and town mayor despite a law provision to bar convicts from public office.

The prosecution has confirmed to the Tahitipresse news agency that the period to challenge the ruling has expired and that there has been no error in the ruling.

This is based on the conviction for corruption of a former French prime minister, Alain Juppe, whose appeal was successful to eliminate a ten-year ban on holding a public office.

Vernaudon has kept his portfolio although the French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, had vowed that he would ask ministers found to have broken the law to resign.