10 Jun 2019

Verdict in French Polynesia presidents' case due in late June

1:37 pm on 10 June 2019

A verdict in the case of alleged abuse of public funds by the last two French Polynesian presidents is due on 27 June.

Edouard Fritch and Gaston Flosse in 2013

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

Last week, the criminal court in Papeete tried Edouard Fritch and his predecessor Gaston Flosse over their actions as mayors of the town of Pirae from the late 1980s onward.

The pair are alleged to have arranged for the town administration to pay for the water supply to the upmarket Erima neighbourhood, where Flosse lived.

A 2011 auditor's report found that Flosse set up the free supply which Mr Fritch continued, with both of them billing the town almost a million US dollars over the years.

The public prosecutor has asked the court to fine the President Fritch $US50,000.

The prosecutor wants Flosse to get a suspended two-year jail sentence, be fined $US100,000 and banned from holding office for three years.

Flosse has been barred from public office since 2014 because of corruption conviction and if the court follows the prosecution's call he might be banned from running in next year's municipal election.

However, that will depend on whether the sentence is executed while a possible appeal is pending.

Flosse's lawyer argued that the whole case should have been thrown out because the statute of limitation applied.

The two politicians, who cooperated for decades, fell out in recent years and in February, Flosse was fined $US20,000 for making defamatory statements about Mr Fritch.

On Friday, the appeal court upheld the fine.

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