7 Jan 2011

Little hope for quick probe of Tahiti spy expenditure

10:59 am on 7 January 2011

There is little hope of a speedy investigation of alleged abuse of French Polynesian public funds for the running of a now disbanded intelligence service.

The publisher of the Tahiti-Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, says 10 million US dollars was spent by the service working on behalf of a former president, Gaston Flosse.

Mr Flosse has already been convicted and fined for obstructing a probe into the disappearance of all documents of the unit, which was run from 1997 until 2004 and paid for with public money.

Although the unit's work was illegal, it was condoned by France as it seconded agents from Paris to work for Mr Flosse's team.

Mr du Prel says it is impossible to say how fast the matter will be dealt with.

"It takes the speed that the politicians tell them to take and don't forget, we have a presidential election in 2012."

This comes as the judicial authorities in Tahiti again deferred a reply to the lawyer acting for Mr Flosse, who had asked for his client to be no longer investigated over the espionage claims.

If found guilty Mr Flosse could be jailed for up to a year.