26 Jun 2014

Judge signals Flosse risks losing office

7:05 am on 26 June 2014

A judge at France's highest court has given a strong signal that French Polynesia's president Gaston Flosse may fail in his bid to overturn a corruption sentence, and therefore risks losing office next month.

In February last year, the veteran politician was given a four-month suspended jail sentence, a 170,000 US dollar fine and banned from public office for three years for running a network of so-called phantom jobs within the presidency in the 1990s in what has been the biggest case of its kind in French legal history.

His lawyers appealed against the sentence but the judge Gilles Lacan now says the offences are obvious and the law has to be applied across the republic.

A verdict is expected to be released in a month.

Mr Lacan says the Flosse network was of a scale as if Francois Hollande ran his presidency with a staff of 150,000.

Mr Flosse has denied any wrongdoing, saying contracts of his presidency were approved by the French authorities.

This week, he succeeded in French Polynesia's court of appeal to have another jail sentence quashed.