21 Apr 2011

Tahiti phantom job case goes ahead after last challenge fails

12:11 pm on 21 April 2011

The criminal court in French Polynesia has thrown out a last-ditch bid by the defence to derail the trial of 87 people accused of being part of an illicit network that profited from a system of phantom jobs.

After a tumultous challenge yesterday, the former president Gaston Flosse was then called to start his testimony.

Walter Zweifel

"The case centres on allegations that in the 1990s, Gaston Flosse began using public funds to pay supporters, such as unionists and journalists, for them to work for his Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party's benefit. The trial, which is the biggest case of its kind in French legal history, is expected to last about a month. About a quarter of Papeete's lawyers was present in what is the outright biggest trial the territory has seen. Should Gaston Flosse be convicted, he risks a jail sentence while some defendants, including the territory's two members of the French assembly, could lose their office. Any final outcome, however, could be years away because any conviction can be appealed and might finally be taken to the France's highest court."