The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea suspects a mysterious Australian plane that crash-landed 30km outside the nation’s capital was being used for drug trafficking.
The Cessna 420C twin-engine aircraft activated its emergency locator transmitter on Sunday evening over the village of Papa Lealea, northwest of Port Moresby, when it’s believed to have gone down.
Flight tracking websites revealed the plane left the Mareeba airport in Far North Queensland but was not cleared to enter the South Pacific country’s airspace.
When a team from the Accident Investigation Commission arrived on the scene Monday, they noticed a make-shift runway had been created in bush land where the smoldering aircraft was found.
However, there was no sign of the pilot or plane’s cargo.
The country’s leader James Marape is now demanding Australian law enforcement based in Port Moresby, assist PNG investigators.
‘The flight is suspicious and that is why I am asking the Australian Federal Police to assist local authorities to ascertain who owns the plane, who flew the plane and what the cargo was,’ Marape said.
Although early information is sketchy, PNG police have indicated the strong possibility the mysterious plane was used for drug trafficking.
A furious Mr Marape sent out a stark warning to Australians that may be involved in smuggling drugs to the tropical nation.
‘We are not a banana republic where anyone can pick up a plane and just come into the country unannounced!’ he said.
‘There is no room for those who think they could peddle drugs in PNG.’
The plane’s registration holder is a PNG company named RAVENPOL NO. 69.
But in another bizarre twist, the sole director and shareholder of the firm, Geoffrey Paul Bull, was murdered in Port Moresby last year, the ABC reported.
The aircraft’s registered operator is Alice Springs-based aviation business AVLEASE.
But the company’s director Ian Scheyer said he has no idea why the plane is listed as belonging to AVLEASE.
‘I can put my hand on my heart and say we’ve never operated it,’ he said.
Mr Scheyer is now seeking an explanation from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.