Translation of article from "Le Canard Enchaîné" of 02.07.2003

New Caledonia invents economic extradition.

For the last nine years Bruno Van Peterghem, an Air France employee living in New Caledonia, has been a thorn in the side – there’s no other way of putting it – of the real boss of this overseas Territory, Jacques Lafleur. This UMP Member of Parliament and President of the South Province of this " pebble ", as it’s known, at the other end of the world, seems finally to have got rid of the " problem " : Van Peterghem has had to leave the island, with wife and children, after being dismissed brutally from his employment there. In a few months Air France is to find him a job in France. This, according to the Human Rights League is economic extradition.

The Air France employee’s career as a troublemaker began, as told by " Le Canard " at the time, in 1994. That year he went to war against improper building permits obtained by a developer, a relation of Lafleur’s, to erect a building complex on a protected site on the island, the Baie de la Moselle. In 1995 the permits were cancelled. And problems began for Van Peterghem, who was leader of the Territory’s Greens, and who took every opportunity to criticize the omnipotence of the Lafleur clan. Different happenings then took place. In 1998 his car was destroyed by fire, six weeks later his house. As the judge refused to allow an expert assessment, the affair was closed.

And now, we come to the economic and social stage. On 28 July 2001, Jacques Lafleur went on local TV (RFO) to explain that Air France was to close its Noumea stopover. But the local strongman also announced that Air Calédonie, a small local company (in which, quite exceptionally, he has no financial interest) would take up the torch. And Lafleur added : " 117 employees are likely to lose their jobs. Well, I’m interested in 116 of them. ". Verbatim.

Lafleur kept his word. Air Calédonie did all in its power to take on all the local Air France employees. All but one : Bruno Van Peterghem. Two months after having him take an aptitude test, management informed him in March 2003 that he had better try to get a job in Paris. And last month Van Peterghem was forced to do just that.

Order has been restored in Noumea.

C.R.