23 Jun 2010

Jail sentence given for contempt in French Polynesia import duty dispute

12:28 pm on 23 June 2010

The criminal court in French Polynesia has jailed a businessman, Rene Hoffer, for one year following his dispute with French customs officials over the import duty for a Rolls Royce car which they seized last year.

Hoffer has been convicted of contempt and ordered to serve his sentence immediately.

The prosecutor, Jose Thorel, also wanted Hoffer to be imprisoned for claiming to be the president since the political turmoil of 2004 when three men laid claim to the title at the same time.

Hoffer had said that three court cases had confirmed that his importation of the vehicle from California in 2008 was legal despite verbal demands by the customs that he pay import duty.

He had no lawyer representing him in court and said before today's appearance that once a written order to pay duty was issued, he would challenge its legality.

He had taken a large number of cases to top French courts including one about the eligibility of Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 election which the constitutional court declined to rule on.