Temaru defence criticises Tahiti pre-trial woes

2:04 pm on 13 May 2019

The defence lawyer of French Polynesia's pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has criticised the way the criminal case against his client is being prepared.

French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru.

French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru. Photo: RNZI

Mr Temaru is due to stand trial next month for allegedly misusing public funds over the allocation of council money towards the running of a local radio station, Radio Tefana.

His lawyer David Koubbi, who has arrived in Tahiti from Paris, told local media that it took his team eight attempts to get access to the documents on which the case is being based.

The accusations against Mr Temaru and two other defendants, Heinui Lecaill and Vito Maamaatuaiahutapu, stem from a public accounts audit of 2009 questioning the allocations to the station which has for decades been asserting sovereignty rights and denouncing nuclear weapons tests.

Mr Koubbi noted that the UN reinscribed French Polynesia on its decolonisation list.

He also alleged that formally detaining the 75-year-old politician for questioning was an attack on his honour because there was no risk of him trying to tamper with witnesses or destroying evidence.

Last year, Mr Temaru's pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira Party accused France of scheming to politically assassinate him for referring French presidents to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity over France's nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific.

However, both the French High Commissioner and the public prosecutor rejected the claim.

Mr Koubbi has become known for defending former trader Jerome Kerviel, who was convicted for losing the Societe Generale bank more than five billion dollars a decade ago.

Mr Temaru is the only French Polynesian president this century without any conviction in the criminal court.

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