17 Jan 2013

Suspect in Tahiti corruption probe free after two months in jail

5:43 pm on 17 January 2013

The judicial authorities in French Polynesia have released a suspect in a major corruption probe, Gaston Tetuanui, after holding him for over two months.

Mr Tetuanui was arrested in October and transferred to Tahiti's Nuutania prison as part of an investigation into the affairs of a New Caledonian businessman, Bill Ravel, who has also been released this month.

He was Mr Ravel's associate in Tahiti.

Still jailed is a leading unionist, Cyril Legayic, who is alleged to have been given 160,000 US dollars in cash over four years to contain strikes at Mr Ravel's companies in Papeete.

The publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex du Prel, says there are peculiar aspects to French law.

"The victims of blackmail are being held in jail as much as the blackmailer."

Alex du Prel says on some occasions Mr Ravel received no help from the authorities, saying they didn't want to be seen breaking a strike.