Tahiti police probe legality of defence outlays for Temaru

11:23 am on 3 January 2020
French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru.

French Polynesia leader Oscar Temaru. Photo: RNZI

Reports from French Polynesia say police have for days been questioning members of the municipal council of Faaa over legal costs to defend its mayor Oscar Temaru who was given a suspended six-month prison sentence last year.

According to media reports, questions are being asked about the legality of the council decision to cover the cost of defending Mr Temaru.

In September, he was found guilty of exerting undue influence over the funding arrangements for Radio Tefana and fined $US50,000.

While the conviction and sentence are being appealed, police have been investigating whether council members abused public funds by backing Mr Temaru.

Tahiti Nui TV reports Mr Temaru and the treasurer of his Tavini Huiraatira Party have this week also been summoned as part of a probe of the party's financing.

The report said questions were being asked about campaign outlays for the territorial election in 2013, the presidential election in 2017 and the French parliamentary election the same year.

The party's lawyer Stanley Cross told the station that this latest investigation was an attempt to break Mr Temaru politically.

When Mr Temaru was convicted in June, Radio Tefana was fined $US1 million, which its operators said would spell the end of the station.

At the time of his trial, Mr Temaru said if he had to be convicted he should be jailed for life.

Radio Tefana has been fined $US1 million.

In 2018, France's top administrative court ruled that his campaign accounts for the May election of that year were deficient and declared him ineligible to keep his assembly seat.

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