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Bougainville News - Aussie jet and Constitution

News forwarded from PNG solidarity action email list

Decision on release of Aussie jet this morning

By DOMINIC KRAU

LAWYERS representing Tasman Australia Airlines yesterday applied in the Waigani Committal Court to order the release of the firm's grounded aircraft.

A decision is expected this morning.

The Cessna citation jet is now at Jackson's Airport in Port Moresby while the airline's owner, Andrew Reid, and pilot Peter McGee are on trial for alleged breaches of Civil Aviation Act 2000.

They have been charged with the careless and dangerous use of an aircraft following an unauthorised landing at the decommissioned Aropa airstrip in Bougainville on Sept 30.

Prosecution lawyer Robert Lindsay told magistrate Ivo Cappo that under the Act, Civil Aviation director Andrew Ogil can release the aircraft on the condition that the defendants pay a bank bond fee of about K1.1 million.

However, the defendants' lawyer Nerrie Eliakim objected, saying that whatever bond fee to be imposed should be "reasonable and not oppressive" as Mr Reid has already lost about A$110,000 as a result of the aircraft being grounded.

She said the aircraft has not been included by the prosecution as part of its evidence and should, therefore, be released.

Ms Eliakim also tendered in court Mr Reid's affidavit that states the costs he has incurred since the grounding of the aircraft.

Magistrate Cappo then ordered that Mr McGee's passport be given to the prosecution.

Mr Reid's passport is currently in the custody of the Immigration Department.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Bougainville government awaits implementation of constitution

THE next major step towards establishing an autonomous Bougainville government would be when the Bougainville constitution is effected.

Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter yesterday told Parliament that its implementation will be on advice from the National Executive Council to the Governor-General. "With the basis for the establishment and operation of the autonomous government in place, preparations for holding elections will then move into high gear," Sir Peter said. "This will, of course, open the way to the next, very important milestone, when the autonomous Bougainville government is elected."

However, there have also been other important indicators of progress along the road to autonomy. "They include such vital prerequisites of peace, public order and good governance as the disposal and destruction of weapons; the recruitment, training and deployment of Bougainvillean police; as well as many other activities through which the Government, foreign aid donors, churches and other non-governmental organisations and communities are working together to support reconciliation, promote restoration, and provide opportunities for Bougainvilleans to participate in development."

Sir Peter was updating Parliament on recent developments concerning the Bougainville constitution, the transition to autonomy, and other aspects on the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.