29 Aug 2016

Former Cook Islands MP appeals sentence

11:47 am on 29 August 2016

Defence lawyers acting for the former Cook Islands minister of Marine Resources Teina Bishop have filed an appeal against his prison sentence and conviction in the High Court.

Mr Bishop was convicted and sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment after being found guilty of corruption as a minister of the Crown.

One Cook Islands Party leader Teina Bishop

One Cook Islands Party leader Teina Bishop Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

His trial followed a three year long police investigation into allegations of suspect dealings between him and foreign fishing company Luen Thai when he was minister of marine resources.

A link was made between a loan Bishop received from Luen Thai's subsidiary, Century Finance, and the granting of 18 fishing licenses to Huanan Fishery.

The Cook Islands Court of Appeal is scheduled to sit on November the 14th when Bishop's appeal will be heard.

Meanwhile, the former senior cabinet minister has been allowed bail on the condition that he surrenders his passport and does not leave the Cook Islands.

In sentencing Bishop, Justice Colin Doherty considered his offending to be at the low end of the scale and did not warrant the maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment

Justice Doherty said he believed a sentence of three years to be appropriate.

However the judge took into consideration what he described as Mr Bishop's good standing in the community, humanitarian and philanthropic activities and that reducing the three year sentence by a third was justified.

A by-election will be held on October 13 for Bishop's previously held seat in Aitutaki's Arutanga-Reureu-Nikaupara.

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