17 Feb 2017

Former NZ policeman sent into exile by Cooks authorities

3:15 pm on 17 February 2017
Rarotonga Airport

Rarotonga Airport Photo: RNZI / Mary Baines

A former New Zealand police detective, who has been living in the Cook Islands for the last 13 years, has been forced out of the country.

Mark Franklin had been given two options - he could go voluntarily and possibly re-enter the country within two years, or be formally deported and barred from entering the Cooks for a minimum of five years.

He has chosen to fly out on Friday morning (Saturday, NZT).

Mr Franklin had worked as an investigator for former cabinet minister Teina Bishop, who unsuccessfully fought corruption charges last year.

Teina Bishop supported by his daughter Tania Bishop outside the High Court in Rarotonga

Teina Bishop supported by his daughter Tania Bishop outside the High Court in Rarotonga Photo: RNZI/Cook Islands News

Our correspondent in Rarotonga, Florence Syme Buchanan, said it was not clear why Mr Franklin was being removed, although his involvement with Bishop was thought to be a factor.

"He was warned by a minister of the crown if he got involved with the Teina Bishop case that there would be repercussions. And those repercussions would affect his immigration status here," she said.

"During the time that Mr Franklin was investigating in the Bishop case - assisting Mr Bishop - that's when the immigration department started to turn the heat up on his immigration status."

In August 2016, Bishop was convicted and sentenced to two-yeas and four months in jail after he was found guilty of corruptly obtaining a bribe while a minister of the crown.

His trial followed a three-year police investigation into money given to him to help fund a resort he wanted to buy on the island of Aitutaki.

The foreign fishing company Luen Thai, through a subsidiary, had given Bishop a massive loan, and at the same time he had granted 18 fishing licences to another subsidiary, Huanan Fishery, while he was Minister of Marine Resources.

Bishop against his conviction but was denied, although his sentence was reduced to six months.

Mr Franklin, too, was convicted and jailed in 2013 after he was convicted for cannabis charges as part of the Cook Islands' largest-ever anti-drug police operation.

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