27 Apr 2011

Former mayors testify in Tahiti phantom job trial

1:37 pm on 27 April 2011

The criminal court in French Polynesia hearing a case of alleged abuse of public funds for phantom jobs has heard the testimony of former mayors.

The case, which is now in its second week, centres on the former presidency run by the Tahoeraa Huiraatira leader, Gaston Flosse, who is alleged to have run an illicit network to advance his party's cause in what is the biggest such trial in French legal history.

According to public radio, the local administrators summoned today say it was essential to be linked to the ruling Tahoeraa to be eligible for assistance from Tahiti for council projects.

The court has also been told of the moves surrounding the retention of the Huahine mayor of the late 1990s, which suggest that funding from the presidency helped garner support for Mr Flosse's campaign to win a French senate seat.

The Tahoeraa has been dismissive of the case, pointing to the fact that the Polynesian affairs office alleged to be central to the network predated Mr Flosse's presidency as it was set up in the days of the French governors.