21 Apr 2011

Network details revealed in Tahiti phantom employees' trial

6:40 pm on 21 April 2011

The criminal court in French Polynesia examining alleged phantom employees has been told that beneficiaries of the presidency's former Polynesian affairs office received envelopes on the eve of elections with voting papers in them.

Tahitipresse reports that the testimony was given as the biggest trial in the territory's history began looking into the alleged illicit network built around the former president, Gaston Flosse, in the 1990s.

A former head of the office told the court that over the years the number of agents swelled to 140 whose task was to push the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party's agenda, especially among the poor.

The court was told that office members would help citizens during the day and return at night to sign them us party members.

A former top official, Marcel Tuihani, says according to Mr Flosse, the network was to inform the public because the information in the local press was too brief.

The trial of the 86 people implicated in the affair is expected to last more than a month.