Seven New Caledonian independence activists sent to mainland France for detention

Seven New Caledonian independence activists sent to mainland France for detention

French gendarmes stand guard outside the tribunal where eleven pro-independence activists, including one of the leaders of the pro-independence CCAT movement, are facing trial for their involvement in last month's wave of deadly unrest in Noumea, in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia .  on June 22, 2024.

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 (June 23rd).

“This transfer was organized during the night with the help of a specially chartered plane for the mission,” Yves Dupas, the prosecutor in the territory’s capital Nouméa, said 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. Authorities did not immediately say what charges Tein faces.

His lawyer Pierre Ortent said on Saturday that he was “appalled” that his client was being sent to France, 17,000 kilometers away, accusing magistrates of “purely political considerations”. The French government has repeatedly accused Tein’s CCAT of orchestrating the violence, a charge the organization has denied.

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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. Hundreds more were injured, and around €1.5 billion in damage was caused during the unrest.

The archipelago’s indigenous Kanaks feared the move would dilute their vote, putting hopes of winning independence outright. The reform was suspended when President Emmanuel Macron called early elections.

Le Monde with AFP

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