Tahiti's Fritch owns up to lying about nuclear tests

3:37 pm on 17 November 2018

French Polynesia's president Edouard Fritch has admitted in the territorial assembly that for 30 years he had lied about the effects of the French nuclear weapons tests.

The President of French Polynesia Edouard Fritch speaks to journalists after a meeting with French Prime Minister at the Hotel Matignon in Paris on June 22, 2017.

Edouard Fritch Photo: AFP or licensors

Mr Fritch says he had kept telling the population that the atomic blasts in Mururoa and Fangataufa were clean.

He says for that reason he is committed to repair what has been done to his country.

France insisted until 2009 that its 193 weapons tests in the South Pacific had no negative impact on human health but then changed its stance by adopting a law allowing for compensation to be awarded to some people suffering from some radiation-induced illnesses.

In his speech, Mr Fritch has also welcomed the French decision this week to cede a site in Papeete to build a memorial to the nuclear legacy.

Mr Fritch criticised the pro-independence side for using the aftermath of the nuclear era to keep slapping France.

Last month, the pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru told the UN decolonisation committee in New York that his party had referred all living French presidents to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Mr Temaru told a local newspaper that at the end of October the Maohi Protestant church had taken its complaint about the French nuclear weapons tests to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.