31 Oct 2012

Tahiti phantom job appeal trial cleared to proceed

4:38 pm on 31 October 2012

French Polynesia's court of appeal has rejected five constitutional challenges at the start of this week's case of more than 40 people convicted for being part of a network of so-called phantom jobs.

Central to the trial is a former president Gaston Flosse who last year was convicted for running an illicitly funded system to advance the policies of his Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party dating back to the 1990s.

He was given a four-year jail sentence and fined 110,000 US dollars in what was the biggest trial of its kind in French legal history.

The defence says the case brought against Gaston Flosse should be dropped because it is beyond a reasonable delay to deal with the matter.

Among those convicted are senior current and former politicians as well as unionists, who have been ordered to repay 5.7 million US dollars to the public purse.

The defence has claimed that the case is aimed at ruining the lives of many people who had contracts with the presidency approved by successive French high commissioners.

The case is expected to run for two weeks and a verdict is expected in January.