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New Caledonian independence activists sent to France for detention after deadly riots

New Caledonian independence activists sent to France for detention after deadly riots

New Caledonian independence activists sent to France for detention after deadly riots

Seven independence activists linked to a group accused of orchestrating deadly riots last month in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia have been sent to mainland France for pre-trial detention, a local prosecutor said on Sunday.

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“This transfer was organized during the night with the help of a specially chartered plane for the mission,” said Yves Dupas, the prosecutor in the territory’s capital Noumea, in a statement.

The seven were sent to mainland France, he added, “because of the sensitivity of the proceedings and to allow investigations to continue in a calm manner without any pressure.”

Among the seven detainees was Christian Tein, head of the pro-independence group CCAT, who was charged on Saturday over the recent violence in which nine people, including two policemen, died.

Hundreds more were injured and around 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in damage was caused during the unrest over the controversial voting reforms.

Authorities did not immediately say what charges Tein faces.

His lawyer Pierre Ortent said on Saturday that he was “stunned” that his client was being sent to France, accusing the magistrates of “purely political considerations”.

Riots, street barricades and looting broke out in New Caledonia in May over an electoral reform that would have allowed longtime residents to participate in local votes.

The archipelago’s indigenous Kanaks feared the move would dilute their vote, putting hopes of winning independence outright.

The French government has repeatedly accused Tein’s CCAT of orchestrating the violence, a charge the organization has denied.

(AFP)