5 May 2010

French Polynesia court fines Flosse for destroying spy unit records

10:21 am on 5 May 2010

The criminal court in French Polynesia has sentenced a former president, Gaston Flosse, to a 16,000 US dollar fine for obstructing the examination of a now defunct intelligence unit, which he ran a decade ago.

The court found that he was guilty of destroying evidence pertinent to the espionage service, whose staff included former French intelligence officers.

A probe of the accounts office into the running of the administration found that all records of the unit's work had vanished after his election loss in 2004.

It was also revealed that computer hard drives were wiped clean.

The intelligence service, which was linked to the presidency and ran an office in the Papeete port, was tasked with keeping a tab on political rivals.

Although some of its activities were illegal, the French authorities tolerated them.

Mr Flosse has said he gave no orders to destroy documents.

His lawyer says he will appeal the verdict.