By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
POLICE suspect that the aircraft which entered the country illegally on Sunday and crash-landed on a makeshift airstrip outside Port Moresby was on a drug-run.
Police Commissioner David Manning in a statement yesterday said officers of the Australian Federal Police and local police investigating the case believed that members of a gang were to have loaded drugs onto the aircraft which later failed to take off.
He said pilot David John Cutmore, who turned himself in at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby on Tuesday morning, was assisting police with their investigations.
Cutmore, who is facing a charge of illegal entry into the country, is being provided consular assistance by the high commission.
Police alleged that the pilot had tried to collect the drugs from the local group between 1pm and 2.30pm last Sunday. But the aircraft crashed while attempting to take off from the remote airstrip at Papa Lealea.
“We believe that local members of this criminal group (then) assisted the pilot and retrieved the drugs from the plane,” Manning said.
“The investigation into the location of the drugs continues.”
Manning urged locals with any information relating to members of the gang or their activities, or the whereabouts of the drugs to contact police. Police already have some information on the local men.
“Those persons are encouraged to come forward to police as we will find them,” Manning said.
Meanwhile, the local company registered as the owner of the Cessna 402C twin-engine aircraft, Ravenpol No 69 Ltd, belonged to Geoffrey Bull Paul.
According to information obtained yesterday, Paul had died in Port Moresby last September after an alleged stabbing incident. And according to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report yesterday, the director of the Australian-based Avlease Pty Ltd Ian Scheyer said he had no idea why the plane was listed as belonging to the company under the Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“I can put my hand on my heart and say we’ve never operated it,” he said.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA