23 Jan 2007

PNGDF aircraft 'hijacked' in Moti escape, inquiry told

3:13 pm on 23 January 2007

The Defence Force Inquiry into the Julian Moti escape from Papua New Guinea has been told the aircraft used in the operation was hijacked by army officers who illegally occupied positions at the time.

The Post Courier reports that in his evidence to the inquiry, Operations Commander Geoffery Wiri said the covert operation using the Casa aircraft was an act of hijack.

Col Wiri says there are no written documents of the operation which was headed by the acting commander, Captain Tom Ur, and joint operations taskforce commander Colonel Vagi Oala who were illegally holding the positions.

Col Wiri said in the Moti case the joint taskforce commander was in a position which was never approved by NEC.

Meanwhile, the inquiry has heard that documents for three controversial payments made by the Defence Department totalling more than 350 million US dollars have gone missing.

In its attempt to determine whether the secret operation to spirit Mr Moti to Solomon Islands was funded by the Department of Defence, the board uncovered the three unbudgeted payments and is questioning the procedures involved.