25 Oct 2010

French Polynesia court to rule on OPT case in January

10:42 am on 25 October 2010

The criminal court in French Polynesia will deliver its verdict in the OPT case on January the 18th following a week-long trial in Papeete.

16 people are accused of misspending 1.4 million US dollars of public money between 2004 and 2006, with the focus on a former government minister, Emile Vernaudon, who had a key role in the administration of the telecommunications company.

The prosecutor has asked for him to be jailed for five years.

His lawyer has likened the case against his client to a caricature, saying that he was a person who wore many hats as he was a minister, a mayor, an administrator and a former French assembly member.

The court case was launched after a two-year probe based on a check by the accounts office in 2007 which found massive irregularities to the benefit of Mr Vernaudon and his political grouping.

Mr Vernaudon was imprisoned for several months as part of the investigation and made legal history in 2008 by becoming the first person under French jurisdiction to be elected mayor while in jail