Temaru defence controversy in Radio Tefana political case revisited

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Pro-independence community station Radio Tefana logo
Pro-independence community station Radio Tefana ... subject of an "exerting undue influence" court case. Image: Radio Tefana/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Investigators in French Polynesia have reassessed their case against the pro-independence leader Oscar Manutahi Temaru, who has challenged the seizure of his US$100,000 savings.

The money was taken at the behest of the French prosecutor as part of a probe into the community radio station funding of Temaru’s defence in a trial in 2019.

The highest court in France rejected the move and ordered the investigators to again make the case for seizing the funds.

According to Tahiti-infos, a decision is due on March 8.

The probe into the defence funding was launched after the criminal court in Pape’ete had given Temaru a suspended prison sentence and a US$50,000 fine.

He was found to have benefitted from the funding arrangement for Radio Tefana, which the court said amounted to “undue influence”.

Temaru was implicated as the mayor of Faa’a whose administration paid for the community radio station, which in its turn was fined US$1 million.

Defence wanted case thrown out
The defence wanted the case to be thrown out, saying the prosecution failed to cite a single incident of propaganda on behalf of Temaru’s Tavini Huiraatira party.

At the time, Temaru said the real reason for his conviction was that in the eyes of France he had “committed treason” by taking French presidents to the International Criminal Court over the nuclear weapons tests.

Oscar Temaru
Faa’a mayor and nuclear-free campaigner Oscar Manutahi Temaru during a zoom conference at Auckland University of Technology in 2020 … “The two issues are tied – nuclear testing and our freedom.” Image: PMC screenshot

In court, Temaru asked for the appeal case to be heard after the French presidential election, saying he feared there could be political interference in the judicial process.

He suggested as a date for the appeal court sitting June 29, 2022, which he said was the anniversary date of French Polynesia’s annexation by France, but the court rejected his suggestion and set March 22 as the start date for the week-long trial.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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