Tahiti's Tong Sang gets suspended jail sentence

RNZ reports the criminal court in French Polynesia has given a suspended one-year jail sentence to a former president Gaston Tong Sang for abusing public funds to pay for phantom jobs.

Tong Sang and two of his former ministers, Clarenntz Vernaudon and Fernand Roomataaroa, were convicted for signing contracts to seal a coalition deal with the Ai'a Api Party.

Tong Sang was fined $US18000.

The three have also been sentenced to jointly pay $US80000 to the public purse.

Their deal in 2008 was allegedly struck to firm up the government coalition.

It involved giving Roomataaroa the agriculture ministry and moving the incumbent into another job as well as upgrading the contracts of 20 of her staff.

The prosecution wanted Tong Sang to be declared ineligible to hold office for a year, but the court rejected that and he remains an assembly member of the ruling coalition and the mayor of Bora Bora.

The three have 10 days to lodge an appeal.

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