Tahiti's Temaru suspends hunger strike

8:38 pm on 14 June 2020
Oscar Temaru, mayor of Faaa since 1983

Oscar Temaru, mayor of Faaa since 1983 Photo: supplied FB

French Polynesia's pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has suspended his hunger strike launched five days ago in protest at the French judiciary.

Mr Temaru made the announcement outside the courts in Papeete where he and his supporters gathered every day this week.

He said he would resume his hunger strike on Monday when he expects the prosecutor Herve Leroy to appear in court following a complaint lodged by his lawyers.

Last week, Mr Leroy seized $US100000 from Mr Temaru's private account and had a judge afterwards approve the action, saying the funds were taken so that they could not be spent.

In response Mr Temaru's lawyers have taken legal action against Mr Leroy, arguing that as prosecutor he failed to honour the presumption of Mr Temaru's innocence because there was no final verdict in the case, over which the money was seized.

Mr Temaru said he therefore demanded $US100,000 in damages, which is the equivalent sum taken last week.

Last year, Mr Temaru, who is the veteran mayor of Faaa, was convicted for exerting undue influence over the funding of a community radio station by the Faaa council.

According to Mr Leroy, the money seized was what the Faaa municipal council spent on Mr Temaru's defence and which Mr Leroy said was an abuse of public funds.

Apart from challenging Mr Leroy in court, Mr Temaru is appealing to the judicial authorities seeking to reverse the judge's formal order to seize his money.

The judge had said taking the mayor's saving was not a disproportionate move.

However, Mr Temaru's backers said the action was unprecedented as the 75-year-old politician was treated as if he was a drug dealer who posed a flight risk.

They also said it amounted to colonial justice because none of the pro-French politicians facing court and with a record of corruption convictions had their savings seized.

The president of French Polynesia is awaiting an appeal court ruling after being convicted a year ago for abusing public funds of the town of Pirae.

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