Pilot: O’Neill’s men punched me

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 30th July 2012


A HELICOPTER pilot claims he was assaulted by political minders in Alotau where members of the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s group are camped.

Pilot James Pima told The National he was assaulted by minders of the camp on Saturday when he landed Telikom technicians in Alotau.

A source at the Alotau camp confirmed that there was a confrontation but that there was no physical assault on the pilot.

“He happened to fly into a political camp on a Saturday with people who appeared to be ununiformed soldiers posing as Telikom technicians,” the source said.

“He was told to p*** off. He was trying to harass MPs who are there on their own volition for a retreat before the formation of government.”

Pima said, however, that his passengers were Telikom employees.

He said he was assaulted and was sporting a black eye and that he was forced to fly off in an overheated Heli Solutions helicopter.

That endangered the lives of his passengers, as well as travelling on an empty tank.

Pilots and civil aviation officials said on Saturday that threatening a pilot and endangering an aircraft was a very serious criminal offence.

Pima reported the matter to 6-Mile police after landing in Port Moresby on Saturday afternoon.

A shaken Pima and the three Telikom staff told reporters on Saturday  in Port Moresby that the incident was totally uncalled for.

“This is the work of some low-life desperate political scumbag scavengers,” Pima said.

“Some are failed politicians who are leeches of politicians and maggots feeding off a weak and corrupt government and government systems.

“These spineless cowards wouldn’t compete and survive in a real world.”

Telikom staffer Pilol Iavia said they were in Alotau to restore microwave links.

“When we landed in Alotau, we were approached by a group of men who asked us what we were doing there.

“We explained that we were Telikom staff.

“They asked us to leave. The captain had a confrontation with the group of men.”

Pima said he had his shirt ripped off and was punched in the left eye.