LEAR JET HELD AFTER ILLEGAL BOUGAINVILLE LANDINGS

admin's picture

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier,Oct. 6) – A private Lear jet has been impounded and is being held at Tokua Airport in Rabaul on the Papua New Guinea island of East New Britain.

The jet has apparently flown mystery trips to parts of Bougainville — including landing at the closed Aropa Airport - on the pretext of bringing in aid.

Customs and Civil Aviation authorities in Port Moresby said yesterday they had approved the plane landing in Buka, near Bougainville, as they had been told the plane was bringing in experts to negotiate a US$250 million financial package for three hospitals in Bougainville.

Inter-Government Relations Minister Peter Barter yesterday said the National Government was investigating the mysterious aircraft, registered as VH-WNZ, which landed at Buka and then Aropa on Bougainville last Thursday.

Police in Buka yesterday also told the Post-Courier the story was confusing and that the island has been "awe struck’’ by the whole thing.

The pilot, Peter McGee, told the Post-Courier from East New Britain yesterday that he was not authorized to comment, saying his job was only to fly the plane from "point A to point B".

Mr McGee denied landing the aircraft at Aropa Airport last week.

But yesterday Buka police station commander Paul Kamuai said the plane arrived in Buka on Thursday and then flew to Aropa where a delegation made up of three expatriates and a Bougainvillean were escorted by Mekamui Defence Force soldiers to Panguna.

He said on Saturday the delegation returned to Buka, with the end part of the story very sketchy.

One of the expatriates was in the police station when the Post-Courier called yesterday to speak to police about the incident. He was waiting to board the Air Niugini flight to Rabaul where the plane is impounded.

Bougainville Governor John Momis, administrator Peter Tsiamalili and Bougainville People’s Congress President Joseph Kabui went on radio at the weekend speaking about the plane and related issues. None of them could be reached yesterday for comment.

In early September the same jet landed in Buka late one evening.

A delegation of two expatriates and a Bougainvillean (names withheld) were confirmed to have stayed at a local guesthouse.

The guesthouse confirmed that the delegation had booked three rooms under one executive of a money scheme operating on the island. It was also confirmed that these three men demanded to see the Buka branch manager of the Bank of South Pacific.

"As Aropa Airport is currently not open for use, we are concerned at the safety implications. We are also concerned to know why anyone would do something so stupid and risky as landing an aircraft at an airport which has been decommissioned for some time," Sir Peter said.

"The situation in Bougainville remains fragile — with weapons disposal continuing to make very positive progress, the psychological and other barriers around the remaining ‘No-Go Zone’ beginning to come down, and the transition to autonomy moving ahead.

"We remain firmly committed to maintaining the integrity of the peace process, and co-operating with the other parties to make sure it keeps moving ahead," Sir Peter said.

October 6, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment