18 Dec 2003

Lyon asks for sanctuary in the Cook Islands

9:27 am on 18 December 2003

Convicted New Zealand businessman Mark Lyon has responded to calls for him to be thrown out of the Cook Islands by taking out a full-page advertisement in a loca paper.

In an open letter to the nation, published in today's Cook Island News, Lyon concedes he has an unflattering past and admits to making mistakes in his life, but asks for forgiveness.

A public rally was held last week to protest against Lyon being granted a 12-month residency by the Prime Minister, following claims he paid a 150 thousand New Zealand dollar bond to secure the permit.

In his letter, Lyon says he moved to the Cook Islands looking for sanctuary from the lifestyle he wishes to leave behind.

He says given his past he doesn't expect Cook Islanders to embrace him but hopes that, given time, they may see he has learned to live by their example.

Lyon was convicted of several counts of possessing illegal weapons and ammunition in Auckland last month and will be sentenced in February.