Logo: Solidarity South Pacific

Mekamui invite two Austalian / British nationals to land on Bougainville

Mystery plane 'invited'

Post-Courier, Fri 8th October 2004

THE Mekamui Defence Force yesterday said the controversial mystery plane landed in Aropa on its invitation because the passengers were negotiating to fund clinics.

A statement sent to the Post-Courier late yesterday from the Me'ekamui Defence Force (MDF) said the airplane, its owner and passengers were warmly invited and accepted by the people in consideration of their humanitarian intent without any political agendas.

The MDF also said people like the Australian plane owner Andrew Reid and the passengers were welcome and face no threat, for the purpose of their trips was to establish medical services, which are free of political agendas.

"The plain facts are (that) the people invited these guests and had asked for help and they came after discussions and their due investigations towards the needs of the people with pastime steps and actions in a humanitarian way not similar to international aid agencies without borders," the MDF said.

"Further to issues of safety claims, the Me'ekamui Government's Transport & Civil Aviation Department declared the airstrip clear and safe and issued landing authority prior to the visitors' arrival.

"Such transparent help and assistance by these visitors will be a benefit to many foreign governments in steps through export of services and medical aid and technology to assist the peace in transparency."

Meanwhile, police in Buka reported yesterday that the two passengers of the mystery plane - an Australian and a Briton - are still at large.

By noon yesterday rumours circulated that Jeff Richards, who represents a finance company from New South Wales and James Nessbit, a Briton who represents the British Funds Company, crossed over to the Solomon Islands after disappearing this week.

Buka police station commander Paul Kamuai did not rule out their crossing over to the Solomons given the status of the Solomon Island/PNG border but added that the police have not ruled out any possibilities.

On the other hand, Internal Security Minister Bire Kimisopa said the Government was very concerned about the issue and that the police are in the process of getting the ground report before they could make any arrests.

Mr Kimisopa said the onus was on Bougainville Governor John Momis, Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui and the leaders to raise official complaints so police could act accordingly.

PNG police search for Australian

AAP - October 6, 2004

Police are searching for an Australian and a Briton who disappeared into the jungle near a rebel no-go zone on Bougainville in PNG after their plane made an illegal landing.

Australian Jeff Richards and Briton James Nessbit were aboard a light aircraft that landed illegally at a disused airport near the rebel-controlled Panguna gold and copper mine in central Bougainville.

Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner Sam Inguba on Wednesday said officers were searching for the two men.

He said they represented several international finance companies that had been invited into the no-go zone by rebel leaders to help establish health clinics in the area.

"The two expatriates are somewhere in Siwai (central Bougainville) and we hope to locate them soon to probe their purpose of (their) travel," Inguba said.

Police in the PNG capital Port Moresby were on Wednesday questioning Gold Coast-based pilot Andrew Reid, whose Cessna Citation aircraft made the illegal landing at the disused Aropa airport.

The strip is near the huge, abandoned Panguna open-cut gold and copper mine - once among the largest in the world.

The mine has been closed since the late 1980s when rebel leader Francis Ona declared a secessionist war against its Australian operators and the PNG government.

Ona still occupies the area and has refused to allow people in without his authorisation.

Reid apologised to the PNG government on Tuesday for illegally landing his aircraft at the strip which is also near the former mining town of Arawa.

"We took it upon ourselves to land there and I regret that incident and I apologise to the PNG government," he told PNG radio.

Reid said he was working with a conglomerate of international aid agencies that had been dealing with Ona's rebel government.

Eyewitnesses saw several foreigners get off the aircraft at the disused airport and head towards the rebel no-go zone around the mine.

Inguba said the two expatriates police were looking for represented international finance agencies invited to Bougainville by the self-styled King of Papaala, David Peei the Second.

Peei was living with Ona near the Panguna mine, Inguba said.

However, a police spokesman said David Peei was another name used by fugitive fast-money scheme promoter Noah Musingku, who is wanted by police in PNG for contempt of court after a series of reportedly illegal financial dealings.

PNG's Minister for Inter-Government Relations Sir Peter Barter described the illegal landing as stupid and risky and said it threatened the fragile peace process on Bougainville.

The troubled island is still recovering from 10 years of civil war.

The need for outsiders to behave with sensitivity and understanding in such a situation was clear, he said.

Reid's plane has been grounded in the northern PNG city of Rabaul until investigations are completed, a spokesman for the country's Civil Aviation Authority said.

Police hunt for two in B'ville

Post Courier, Thurs 7 October 2004

POLICE from both Papua New Guinea and Australia have mounted a search for two expatriates missing in Bougainville.

The two men ­ Jeff Richards who represents a finance company from New South Wales and James Nessbit, a Briton who represents a British funds company ­ were on board the controversial Lear jet that landed in the de-commissioned Aropa airport last Thursday.

They were said to have been appointed by a United States-based company named Majestic Capital Management (an internet search by the Post-Courier found no records of the existence of this company) to build three clinics in Bougainville.

Civil Aviation Authority chief executive officer Andrew Ogil told the Post-Courier yesterday the jet, grounded since Friday last week, will be impounded until lawyers ascertained what penalties could be taken against the two pilots and the company for breaching CAA regulations.

Commanding pilot Peter McGee and jet owner Andrew Reid are in Port Moresby under Civil Aviation custody for questioning.

Bougainville Administrator Peter Tsiamalili said yesterday it was a relief that this had surfaced because it would have led to many more "on-going" happening on the island without their knowledge. He said he would present a paper to Cabinet for tight security and screening of expatriates visiting Bougainville. "The peace process has been going successfully, a result of all efforts of the people and the leaders, including donor agencies, and while this is going on we are mindful that there are other activities too on the island," Mr Tsiamalili said.

Police Commissioner Sam Inguba told a media conference yesterday police were very concerned because the legitimate process and procedures were not followed.

"While investigations into this matter is underway, let me reiterate that such unwarranted intrusion will ruin the effort of the Government and other stakeholders who are working hard as a team to promote the fragile peace process and the arms disposal program in Bougainville," Mr Inguba said. The Mekamui Defence Force office said the expatriates were present on a humanitarian mission.

"We promise these people will assist us print our own currency, will seal all the roads in Panguna and then distribute K1 million to everyone living in the 'No Go Zone'," Mekamui officials said.

Mr Reid, based on the Gold Coast, apologised to the people of Bougainville for landing without authority and added that he was running out of time and under pressure from the Mekamui defence force soldiers, forcing the unauthorised landing.