21 Feb 2007

ABG official says four fugitive former Fijian soldiers surrendered

4:45 pm on 21 February 2007

An official in the autonomous Bougainville government says four of five former Fiji soldiers who have been illegally in the Papua New Guinea province willingly surrendered to authorities.

The Fijians are the last of a group of 8 former soldiers who had gone to Bougainville in late 2005, apparently to provide security protection for a scam operator, Noah Musingku.

Previous unconfirmed reports have said they expected to be paid about one million US dollars each.

The government official says the Fijians asked for help and a car was sent to Tonu in southern Bougainville to bring them to Buka.

He says the former soldiers had realised that Mr Musingku did not have the resources to pay them and that he was a conman.

The official says the ABG did not offer any reward leading to the arrest of the Fijians, despite newspaper reports in which Mr Musingku claims a sum of 1.7 million US dollars had been offered.

The official says the Fijians are likely to face charges in Buka for breaching immigration laws after which they will probably be deported.