Detained vessel flees Simpson Harbour

National, Normal

The National- Monday, January 10, 2011


A VESSEL detained by PNG Customs Services and currently the subject of court proceedings in regards to crude oil that was alleged to have been stolen from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has fled PNG.

The vessel was in anchorage in the Simpson Harbour, East New Britain, under state control, monitored by Customs and police when it turned off all its lights at midnight on Saturday and quietly cruised out of PNG.

The vessel is believed to be currently at sea desperately attempting to leave PNG waters.

PNG Customs Services Commissioner Gary Juffa confirmed the getaway and stated that Customs, police and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force were working to intercept the vessel and bring it back to PNG to face its impending court case.

On board the vessel is believed to be crude oil worth more than K15 million stolen from Bougainville.

Juffa admitted the incident was regrettable and he had already ordered assistant commissioner Islands region to conduct a full investigation into the matter to determine the facts surrounding the departure of the vessel. 

He said because of the sensitivity of the issue he could not make further comments, adding responsible authorities were working together to recover the vessel, its cargo and charge those responsible. 

It is believed the captain of the vessel had been charged with stealing by the police and for various other Customs offences and was awaiting court when he decided to flee after he was granted bail.