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Policeman, clerk jailed for vote-rigging

NOUMEA, April 13 (OFO) - A policeman and an officer in Noumea were found guilty and sentenced to jail on Tuesday for tampering with proxies during New Caledonia's recent Loyalty Islands Province's provincial elections, daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes reports on Wednesday, reports Oceania Flash.

A court in Noumea heard that last May, Daniel Hne, a police officer in Noumea, forged his superior's signature in order to establish a proxy for about twenty Noumea residents registered on the Northern electoral roll.

Hne told the court he only wanted to "save everyone's time", because his

superior, the only one authorised to endorse the proxies, "was not always here to sign".

All the proxies turned out to be for the same party, the court heard. Hne was sentenced to three months jail and a 40,000 French Pacific Francs (CFP, around 350 US dollars) fine.

Pending the verdict, he had already been suspended.

In a similar case, a provincial officer, Antoine Zeiwe, also had to respond to the forgery of his uncle's signature on a proxy form.

The uncle was registered in the Northern province and was unable to travel because he was in a coma.

Although he didn't turn up before the court, he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 days' jail, a 80,000 CFP fine and disqualified for three years from exercising his civic rights.

Les Nouvelles comments this could lead to the nullification of the Northern provincial elections, which are already subject to a dispute that has been submitted to the French-based State Council.

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