6 Oct 2004

PNG police probe mystery Bougainville flight

4:20 pm on 6 October 2004

Police in Papua New Guinea are questioning an Australian pilot who landed a private Lear jet at the disused Aropa airport near a rebel no-go zone close to the abandoned Panguna mine on Bougainville.

Police in Buka, where the plane landed on its way to Aropa, say the Australian-registered aircraft, which has now been grounded in the northern PNG city of Rabaul, was carrying three foreigners and a Bougainvillean.

The National newspaper quotes sources as saying the local man was Noah Musingku, who is wanted by PNG police for his role in a failed pyramid scheme.

Police say when the plane arrived at Aropa, the passengers were escorted to Panguna by members of the Mekamui Defence Force, maintained by rebel leader, Francis Ona.

One of those aboard the aircraft, has since been identified as Andrew Reid, who questioned by police, claimed to have arrived in Bougainville on behalf of an American company to release at least 200 thousand US dollars in humanitarian relief funds.

The company has since been identified as Majestic Capital Finance, a money and property investment firm based in Detroit.

Mr Reid, an Australian, is reported to have been arrested for entering PNG airspace without permission.