O’Neill admits piracy in Milne Bay a big concern

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says piracy in Milne Bay waters remains a huge concern in Papua New Guinea.
O’Neill was responding to questions from Samarai-Murua MP Isi Henry Leonard on the increase in piracy in the waters off Milne Bay.
Leonard said on Oct 5, 2016, Samarai locals and those on surrounding islands impounded a Vietnamese vessel which was placed under the custody of Samarai police. But the next day, the crew from mv Tama, owned by the former Samarai-Murua MP Gordon Wesley, allegedly boarded the impounded vessel and stole K109,000 worth of beach-de-mer, 1900 litres of diesel and personal properties and cash.
Leonard said those involved were charged and committed to stand trial at the National Court while the case of the former member came to a dead end under the vetting committee chaired by the police commissioner.
O’Neill said the concerns on piracy or the thefts on the Vietnamese boat was a matter being investigated by police and the investigations and the courts must be allowed to address that issue.
“It’s not for me to judge whether someone is committing a crime or not but piracy in general in Milne Bay is a huge concern,” he said.
“We have got people running around the islands of Milne Bay, holding up people at sea.”
O’Neill said some perpetrators were known by people in Milne Bay but they were being protected.
“They need to hand the suspects across to police and let the police arrest them and they must be held accountable for their actions,” he said.
“I will also find out from the police commissioner whether he had directed someone who is committing a crime not to be charged as I
don’t think he has the powers to do so.
“The powers of charging is with the investigation officer to charge anyone who he investigates,” O’Neill said.