15 Sep 2008

Anger that PNG Government has given Swamp Ghost salvagers the green light

1:55 pm on 15 September 2008

The Papua New Guinea government has granted an American company permission to repatriate a World War II bomber wreck, which is affectionately known as `Swamp Ghost' despite findings such a move is illegal.

In February, 1942 the B-17E Flying Fortress crash-landed in the Agaiembo swamp, in PNG's Oro Province, after being damaged by Japanese fighter planes during a bombing run.

The aircraft was found over two years ago but some PNG politicians say moving it to the US is illegal under PNG laws - a view that has been expressed by previous committees, reports and legal advice.

But the PNG government last week accepted the salvage company's 111 thousand US dollars payment for the wreck along with a promise to construct a display facility, recreation playground and barbecue area.

In a joint statement, Western Province Governor Bob Danaya and Eastern Highlands Province Governor Malcolm Kela Smith say only PNG's Governor-General can approve such sales.

They say the aircraft is worth millions of kina and the PNG Museum took no steps to protect the property of the citizens of PNG, but actively engaged in an illegal sale with complete disregard to that ownership.