Five New Caledonia pro-independence leaders will continue to serve a preliminary term in several jails in mainland France, pending their trial, a Nouméa court ruled on Friday.

The five are part of a group who were initially arrested and indicted on 22 June, then transferred to metropolitan France on a specially-freighted plane that same day.

Nouméa public prosecutor Yves Dupas said at the time their transfer was decided in order to “ensure investigations can continue in a climate of serenity and without any pressure or fraudulent conspiracy”.

Their arrest triggered a fresh upsurge of violence after initial riots broke out in New Caledonia on 13 May, causing further burning, destruction, looting and the death of nine persons (including two French gendarmes)casualties.

The material cost of the riots, so far, has been estimated at over €2.2 billion(US$2.38 billion).

The accused are suspected of being the ring-leaders and “order-givers” of the riots.

They are facing charges of organised crime in relation to the organising of protests that degenerated into grave civil unrest.

The riots broke out in the French Pacific archipelago, initially in a move to protest against and oppose a French constitutional amendment bill that would have significantly altered the voting system for local elections.

In Nouméa on Friday, a Court of Appeal rejected an appeal from the detainees and ruled that five of the seven persons currently detained as part of the investigation, would remain in custody in several prisons in mainland France.

Some of the defendants appeared by way of videoconference.

An earlier hearing took place on Wednesday before the Court adjourned, announcing its ruling for Friday.

Two others, women, also detained in France, have been granted special conditions: they will be placed in home arrest with the obligation to wear an electronic tracking device for an initial period of six months. They will also have to comply with a set of obligations including to not interact neither with other detainees nor the media.

They are: Brenda Wanabo-Ipeze, described at the communication officer of the “CCAT” organisation and Frédérique Muliava, described as the Chief of Staff of New Caledonia’s Congress President Roch Wamytan.

CCAT (field action coordination cell) is a group created in October 2023 by Union Calédonienne, one of the more radical components of the pro-independence platform FLNKS)

CCAT claimed it was organising and coordinating the protest actions in New Caledonia.

As part of the Nouméa appeal court ruling on Friday, CCAT leader Christian Téin will remain in the Mulhouse jail (North-east of France).

Two others (Joël Tjibaou and Gilles Jorédié) will remain at Nouméa’s Camp-Est prison.

One of the defence lawyers on Friday, Martin Calmet, told media he was determined to carry on fighting on the judicial level to have his three clients released, saying “these people have never called for violence”.

François Roux, another lawyer defending Téin and Joël Tjibaou, said during the hearings that he regarded the whole trial as a “political case”.

“These are people fighting for their independence. How will we regard this case once New Caledonia will be independent?”, he told the Court.

Téin, speaking to French media earlier this week, said he regarded himself as a “political prisoner”.

A contingent of some 3,500 French security forces has been deployed to secure this weekend’s second and final round of the French snap general elections to elect a new 577-seat National Assembly (lower house), including New Caledonia’s two seats.