7 Sep 2005

Outlaw in PNG's Bougainville says he's neither armed nor after mineral riches

1:27 pm on 7 September 2005

A British man wanted by police in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says he's not brought weapons in, and he's not looking for oil, gold or gas.

James Nesbitt says he's a contracted building project manager working for a company which works in frontier countries to build hospitals and schools.

He would not name the company or the client but says he had met with the former rebel leader Francis Ona, who died in July.

Mr Nesbitt says the people of Bougainville are suffering, with people dying needlessly in childbirth, and others bleeding to death after car accidents because they belong to the wrong political faction.

He says he's in the capital, Buka, and has left the province three or four times, since arriving in a rebel-held zone on an illegal flight a year ago.

Police want to question Mr Nesbitt about illegal entry and the suspected overstaying of his PNG visa.

The provincial police commander, Joseph Bemu, says the man is in the south of Bougainville Island.

But Helen Hakena of the Leitana Women's aid agency says Mr Nesbitt is living near her house on Buka Island.

"We're concerned about our own safety and securitym particularly when we don't know whether these people are armed or not, because they're living I think about 11 metres away from my house. So we really would like the police to do something about these white men that are roaming around freely in Bougainville."

Ms Hakena isn't aware of any hospitals or schools Mr Nesbitt says he's built.

She says with the new administration in Bougainville, Mr Nesbitt should be forced to declare who he's working for and why.