4 Nov 2019

Palika defends New Caledonia's Neaoutyine

9:51 am on 4 November 2019

New Caledonia's Palika party has come out in support of its leader and Northern Province President, who last week was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence.

President of New Caledonia's Northern Province Paul Neaoutyine

President of New Caledonia's Northern Province Paul Neaoutyine Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

The criminal court found Paul Neaoutyine guilty of misspending public funds and fined him $US5000 over the allocation to various organisations, including one in charge of transporting disabled children.

The Palika said the ruling was a political cabal to discredit his political action.

It says the court knew that the funding decision was approved by the provincial assembly.

Earlier, the UNI party also defended Mr Neaoutyine, saying the money was given as a response to an urgent need and Mr Neaoutyine acted as a person with a conscience.

At the trial, Mr Neaoutyine had argued that such transport was the responsibility of the territorial government, which he said didn't do its job.

He said while he wasn't authorised to call for tenders, he wouldn't leave the children without support.

It is not known if Mr Neaoutyine will appeal.

Mr Neaoutyine, who is the leader of the pro-independence Palika party, has been pushing for New Caledonia to become an independent country, but in a partnership with France.