By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
THE Australian pilot of the mystery aircraft which crash-landed on a strip of land outside Port Moresby on Sunday has been found and charged with illegal entry, an official says.
Acting Chief Migration Officer Robert Kennedy told The National yesterday that the pilot, David John Cutmore, had been charged with illegal entry under Section 16 (1) (a) of the Migration Act.
“Police are now conducting a separate investigation on him which may involve illegal activities,” Kennedy said.
He added that Cutmore did not have a passport.
Villagers near Papa-Lealea, the plant site of the PNG LNG project about 30 km west of Port Moresby, alerted authorities after finding the partly damaged and burning aircraft at the end of a cleared strip of land on Sunday afternoon. The pilot and cargo were missing.
The villagers had earlier noticed the aircraft circling the area before it disappeared.
Prime Minister James Marape on Tuesday asked the Australia Federal Police to assist their local counterparts in finding out who the pilot was, what cargo the aircraft was carrying and who owned it.
Marape also revealed that Police Commissioner David Manning, based on preliminary investigations, believed that drug trafficking was involved.
Police were notified on Tuesday that the Cutmore had turned himself in at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.
It is understood that AFP officers are interrogating Cutmore at a location in Port Moresby.
A statement from the Australian High Commission said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance, in accordance with the Consular Services Charter, to an Australian man in Papua New Guinea. Owing to our privacy obligations, we will not provide further comment.” Deputy Police Commissioner Operations Donald Yamasombi said any update on the incident would be released when investigations were completed.
“Conspiracies and myths serve no purpose for anyone at this stage. Therefore, in the interest of justice I will not release anything now until all our enquiries are completed and we are happy.”
The Australian Government Civil Aviation Safety Authority website showed that the Cessna 402C twin-engine aircraft was registered to a PNG company called Ravenpol No 69 Limited. Its address is Gerehu.
The aircraft has been operating out of Australia by a company called Avlease Pty Ltd based in the Northern Territory.