By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
THE K160 million worth of cocaine seized in the country’s biggest drug bust in July has been sent to Australia for “proper forensic analysis”, police say.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations Donald Yamasombi told The National that the 28 bags each weighing 23kg were sent on Monday, Sept 14 under a mutual legal assistance framework between PNG and Australia.
“The drugs (were) sent to Australia not because we wanted to send it (there),” Yamasombi said.
“It’s done under a mutual legal assistance framework.
“We don’t have the capabilities to analyse anything in PNG. (So) why should we keep it here?
“It is sent there so that proper forensics analysis will be done (to provide) evidence for us in court.”
Three locals, an Australia pilot and an Italian yacht owner are facing various charges linked to the drug bust at Papa-Lealea outside Port Moresby on July 26.
“Their cases are still pending in court in Port Moresby.
Assistance on criminal matters between PNG and other countries come under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2005.
A foreign country can request for materials lawfully obtained and in the possession of the PNG constabulary, and vice-versa.
Because Papua New Guinea does not have the tools and capacity to properly analyse the drugs, the Attorney-General’s office has been liaising with counterparts in Australia for assistance.
The 644kg of cocaine was sent to Australia on Sept 14.
Australian police are in the process of prosecuting those associated with the planning of the PNG drug smuggling case.
Yamasombi said: “We are working (within) the legal framework in the country to ensure these drugs (and) the persons implicated in smuggling and dealing with it are prosecuted.
“The drugs (must be) properly analysed using forensics tools (to) afford evidence for the case we are doing.”
He denied that police investigations into the drug bust had been suspended.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Crimes Hodges Ette also told The National that investigations into the cocaine haul were continuing.
“The investigations have not been stalled.
“We are quietly investigating the case.’’
Prime Minister James Marape had earlier told Parliament that the cocaine would not be moved without proper consultation between the two countries.
Australian aircraft pilot David John Cutmore is charged with one count of conveying smuggled goods and one count of unauthorised air travel.
Italian yacht owner Carlo D’Attanasio is charged with two counts of smuggling prohibited goods
Both are detained at the Bomana Prison Isolation Centre.
Locals Dominic Telauki Terupa, Morgan Mogu and Shane Dikana are charged with aiding foreigners and smuggling prohibited goods.
They are also remanded at Bomana.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA