18 Apr 2008

Vernaudon loses French Polynesian appeal over corrupt land deal

10:34 am on 18 April 2008

The appeal court in French Polynesia has upheld the conviction of the mayor of Mahina, Emile Vernaudon, for his role in a corrupt land deal.

He was given a suspended one-year jail sentence and fined 40,000 US dollars as well as deprived of his civic rights for a year.

His lawyer says the conviction may be appealed in a court in France.

Last month, Vernaudon made history by becoming the first person under French jurisdiction to be elected mayor while being in jail.

He is free now but was held for four months as part of an ongoing investigation into theft and fraud dating back to his time as minister in charge of telecommunications and the postal service.

He is also the leader of the Aia Api Party which forms part of the French-backed To Tatou Aia coalition that managed to oust the seven-week old government this week.