PNG VILLAGERS ANGERED OVER WAR RELICS RULING

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FINSCHHAFEN, Papua New Guinea (Dec. 16, 1999 – Post-Courier)---Finschhafen villagers are angered by a court ruling last week, which they claim will leave them poorer in terms of historic war treasurers.

The National Court in Lae threw out their application to stop an Australian firm from salvaging and shipping out of Finshhafen and the country, relics of several World War Two fighter planes.

Resident National Court judge Justice Injia refused the application on the ground that the defendant, Bruno Carnovale, of the 75th Flying Squadron Museum, had been granted proper permission by the National Museum and Art Gallery to salvage and export the relics.

Justice Injia ruled that the War Surplus Material Act of PNG stated that the state was the sole custodian of such war relics and that the defendant had legal rights to carry out its activities.

But Norm Giamsa, the plaintiff involved in the case, representing landowners from the site from where the relics were salvaged, said the actions of the National Museum to grant the permit in the first place is wrong.

"It is totally unacceptable and absurd for the State of PNG, through the Foreign Affairs and the Culture and Tourism Departments, to permit foreigners to take out such valuable treasurers,'' Mr. Giamsa said yesterday.

He warned that precedence had been set and that war relics could be easily taken out of the country, by obtaining permits from the National Museums.

"What the National Museum and the State should be doing is to safeguard these relics and restore them at their original sites to display our proud history. Take them away and you destroy that history,'' an angry Mr. Giamsa told the Post-Courier.

"These relics are foundations of our proud history and we should take pride in them by restoring and maintaining them,'' he said.

He said an investigation should be carried out into how the permits were granted and that those relics should be returned.

Mr. Giamsa said the court action he took was on behalf of landowners from Finschhafen who did not want the relics to be taken out. He said this is the second time that war relics have been taken out of Finshhafen.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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