Former Tahiti leader Flosse faces corruption trial
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The former head of government in France’s Pacific territories, Gaston Flosse, faced trail on Monday in the biggest trial ever in French Polynesia. He is accused of siphoning off public cash to run his party and benefit his political supporters in the 1980s and 90s.
Flosse, who is 79-years-old and currently holds a seat in the French Senate, is accused of spending millions of euros of public funds between 1993 and 2004 to keep dozens of
people on his administration’s payroll in non-existent jobs.
Some worked for his Tahoerra party, others were journalists, trade unionists and politicians – some high-ranking, including two parliamentarians.
In a trial due to the wind up at the end of May the court in Papeete will hear from 85 people.
The misuse of funds first came to light in 1995, but it has taken more than 15 years of investigations to get to this point.
France is no stranger to corruption scandals and the case is very similar to that against former French president Jacques Chirac, accused of funnelling public money into phantom jobs for political allies while he was mayor of Paris.
Flosse is close to Chirac, and his trial may end the same way. His defence team – including a lawyer who defended the former president - may invoke a constitutional challenge which would delay the trial for at least three months, a tactic which worked for Chirac in March.