23 Oct 2013

Paris court rules Flosse corruption appeal to be heard in Tahiti

3:03 pm on 23 October 2013

France's highest court has rejected a bid to move a court of appeal case of French Polynesia's president, Gaston Flosse, away from Tahiti.

His lawyers had claimed that the situation in Papeete would undermine the chance of a fair trial.

In January, the criminal court gave Mr Flosse a five-year prison sentence and a 110,000 US dollar fine for corruption as it did to a French advertising executive, Hubert Haddad.

The businessman had paid about two million US dollars in kickbacks over 12 years to Mr Flosse and his party to get public sector contracts.

Mr Flosse admitted receiving some funds but said it wasn't for personal use but to pay alimony to former mistresses.

Both men were jailed for weeks during the investigation after the French senate lifted Mr Flosse's parliamentary immunity.

France's highest court is meanwhile due to release its verdict in another appeal against a corruption conviction related to Mr Flosse's four-year suspended jail sentence for being part of an illicitly funded system with so-called phantom jobs to advance the policies of his party.

If the conviction is upheld, there is no more appeal avenue left and Mr Flosse has to quit political office