22 Feb 2007

Former Fiji soldiers to face charges of raising militia in Bougainville

7:34 pm on 22 February 2007

Four former Fiji soldiers, who surrendered to authorities in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville earlier this week, are to appear at a committal hearing on charges of raising an unauthorised force on March 7th.

The soldiers had been working for a money scam operator Noah Musingku in a so called no go zone in southern Bougainville - it is understood they had trained a security unit for him.

The four, who had resisted calls from the autonomous Bougainville government for more than a year that they leave the island, this week asked for their help after realising they wouldn't receive the money promised by Mr Musingku.

The Bougainville police commander, Joseph Bemu, says he has a team of officers now in south Bougainville trying to gather evidence about the activities of the Fijians.

He says immigration officials are due from Port Moresby on Saturday and the Fijians may also face immigration charges.

He says negotiations are continuing to encourage the last remaining Fijian to also leave south Bougainville.

Meanwhile an Australian logistics company minding Australian police assets in Bougainville has been ordered to pack up and leave by the president, Joseph Kabui.

Mr Kabui has told HK Logistics and helicopter company Hevilift Limited to leave the province by March 8.

This comes after they failed to provide assistance when the ABG requested a helicopter be provided to airlift the Fijian soldiers out of south Bougainville after they surrendered.