3 May 2011

Former Papeete employees appear in Tahiti phantom job trial

6:49 pm on 3 May 2011

Several former employees of the Papeete town hall have been in French Polynesia's criminal court as the judge is continuing to hear 86 people involved in the alleged abuse of public funds for phantom jobs.

The trial centres on the former presidency run by Gaston Flosse who is alleged to have run an illicit network from the mid 1990s to advance his Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party's cause.

The former employees, who were on the presidency's pay roll, told the court they worked to help Papeete integrate young people who had difficulties.

Tahitipresse says the mayor, Michel Buillard, who is now also a member of the French assemby, defended the arrangement with Mr Flosse, saying he needed a team he could trust.

He said the French state didn't help but the territorial administration did.

Mr Flosse has told the court that there was nothing untoward in any of the contracts issued for his officials because they were all approved by successive French high commissioners.

The trial is the biggest of its kind in French legal history and so far has heard from former mayors, unionists and journalists.