12 Jul 2007

French Polynesia's Temaru appeals racism ruling

6:43 pm on 12 July 2007

A former president of French Polynesia, Oscar Temaru, will appeal his conviction for racial discrimination.

In a statement, his party is taking issue with the decision of the criminal court in Papeete to fine him more than 5,000 US dollars.

The dispute centres on the Tahitian words used by Mr Temaru during an assembly sitting last year when he expressed his reservation about immigration from mainland France.

His party claims there was no discrimination or hatred in the comments while it alleges that the political opposition has turned the judiciary into a political tool.

The Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party had welcomed his conviction, saying it hoped it would stop Mr Temaru from making xenophobic and racist remarks.

Mr Temaru's party has accused the Tahoeraa of choosing harsher Tahitian words in the assembly and says as interior minister in France, Nicolas Sarkozy used inflammatory expressions.