French Polynesia atoll sale case deferred

8:21 pm on 19 November 2015

The appeal court in French Polynesia has deferred a fresh trial over the controversial 2002 sale of Anuanuraro atoll until February the 15th.

Last year, the former president, Gaston Flosse, and five other defendants, had been acquitted of charges of abuse of public funds for paying nine million US dollars for the atoll, which was five times its value.

The atoll was bought off a leading pearl producer, Robert Wan.

Edouard Fritch and Gaston Flosse in 2013

Edouard Fritch and Gaston Flosse in 2013 Photo: RNZI Walter Zweifel

The prosecution challenged the acquittal but court has decided to put off today's hearing until next year when it will try Flosse and Mr Wan only.

Those originally accused include the current president, Edouard Fritch, and another former president, Gaston Tong Sang, who was the lands minister at the time of the transaction.

Last year, Flosse's lawyer said the purchase was never a matter to be dealt with under criminal law, arguing that as constitutional principle the government of the day could acquire land as a reserve.

In September last year, Flosse was stripped of all his offices by France's highest court because of a corruption sentence.