Bishop trial confirmed for July date

Thursday April 07, 2016 Written by Published in Politics
Opposition leader Teina Bishop makes his way up the courthouse steps yesterday morning. 16040701 Opposition leader Teina Bishop makes his way up the courthouse steps yesterday morning. 16040701

Opposition leader and former Ministry of Marine Resources minister Teinakore Bishop’s high profile case has been confirmed for a trial in July.

 

Bishop appeared at the Cook Islands High Court before Justice of Peace Bernice Manarangi yesterday.

The case will be heard before a judge and 12 jurors on July 4.

Last year Bishop entered a not guilty plea to a charge of corruption relating to his dealings with international fishing company Luen Thai during his time as Minister of Marine Resources.

JP Manarangi told the court the matter would be adjourned and a translator of Maori language was ordered.

Bishop’s current bail conditions, forbidding him from associating with any of the Crown witnesses, still applies.

It is alleged that Bishop and his business partner Thomas Koteka received a loan from Leun Thai subsidiary Century Finance, of which $250,000 was invested by Koteka so he and Bishop could buy Samade Resort on Aitutaki for $1 million.

The prosecution alleged there was a link between this and the granting of 18 fishing licences to Huanan Fishery. Bishop is alleged to have used his “close relationship” with Leun Thai to secure that loan, and the prosecution submitted an evidence of Skype conversations between Bishop and a Leun Thai associate to substantiate its claim.

Under the Cook Islands Crimes Act 1969, a Minister of the Crown who corruptly accepts or attempts to obtain any bribe for himself or any other person can face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.Bishop was represented by lawyer Brian Mason. The One Cook Islands leader has been in the headlines since March 23, when it was announced he had been chosen the new leader to head the Democrats and First Cook Islands in parliament.

It was subsequently disclosed that Bishop had already written a pre-dated letter of resignation and would remain parliamentary opposition leader until June 30, when his position would be re-assessed in the light of his court case. However, the Aitutaki MP has wasted no time in attacking the government on several fronts, including the controversial EU purse seining agreement.            - LC/CS

Leave a comment