23 Aug 2010

French Polynesia businessman, Rene Hoffer, released from jail

11:36 am on 23 August 2010

The appeal court in French Polynesia has released a businessman, Rene Hoffer, after he had served only two months of a one-year jail sentence for contempt of court.

The offence occurred during his legal dispute with the French customs department over the import duty on his Rolls Royce car.

Hoffer's custom's case will now be heard in September and should he succeed, it could undermine the territory's tax system based on import levies.

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

In June, the prosecutor also wanted Hoffer to be jailed for claiming to be the president since the political turmoil of 2004 when three men laid claim to the title at the same time.

On his release, Hoffer said he considered himself to be a political prisoner.

A lawyer assisting Hoffer says none of the politicians holding the presidency since 2004 has lodged a complaint against his client.