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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 16) – A legal battle is looming over a decision by the National Museum and Art Gallery to allow another war relic salvage team into Papua New Guinea.

It is understood directors of the 75th Squadron Flying Museum of Melbourne, Australians Bruno Carnovale and Ian Whitney are in Port Moresby and are on their way to Wewak and Madang to salvage and possibly take war relics out of PNG.

Their arrival in the country has outraged Robert Greinert, one of the directors of the salvage team involved in the move to export the Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress dubbed Swamp Ghost, to the U.S.

In a letter dated June 13, 2006 to the National Museum & Art Gallery’s board chairman Arthur Jawodimbari, Mr Greinert warned of possible legal action to stop the team salvaging any relics.

Mr Greinert said the plan by the 75th Squadron’s to recover certain aircraft remains violated the contract signed between his organisation’s – the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Inc (HARS) – and the PNG National Museum.

He alleged that the 75th Squadron was planning recovery of certain aircraft remains for which HARS holds salvage permission and agreements with landowners.

"Should there be any attempt by this group to conduct salvage of items guaranteed to us under our MOU, we would be forced to enter into legal action," Mr Greinert’s letter said.

He also pointed out that in light of the "recent media and political fuss" caused by salvaging of the Swamp Ghost "I would request that you speak with Mr Simon Poraituk and advise him that no activity by 75th Squadron should take place until the legality of their proposed activities are verified".

"The museum should not be dragged into an embarrassing legal case and avoid further public embarrassment by the current acting director exceeding his powers and permitting a commercial salvage organisation to harvest war relics," he said.

June 19, 2006

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