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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Vanuatu Fugitives Allegedly Involved In PNG Meeting
Men involved in Phocea controversy in Port Moresby

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 21, 2013) – Sources from Papua New Guinea report that a Boeing 737 chartered from International JetClub Limited, a company known to provide private charter services worldwide, landed at Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby 8:30pm Thursday night, January 17, after Immigration was already closed.

Documents reveal that the flight originated in the Maldive Islands (Indian Ocean) and that on January 11, Vanuatu’s Embassy in Brussels requested the PNG Embassy to arrange flight clearance at Port Moresby for the aircraft which it said would be arriving from Singapore.

According to sources at Jacksons Airport Customs check counters, the unexpected landing caused a stir when the two pilots and cabin crew acted in a suspicious manner.

Customs officers alerted police who have since been working around the clock to determine the status of the incident.

When questioned, the two pilots and five-crew provided valuable information about a high delegation meeting to be held Friday inside the cabin of the Boeing 737 aircraft. The meeting is supposedly to be headed by two men wanted by the Transnational Crime Unit in Vanuatu and two Senior PNG Government Ministers, whose names are now known to police.

[PIR editor's note: PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill maintains that the jet was cleared by the proper authorities, and media reports about he and his government meeting with Pascal Anh Saken are only rumors. Elsewhere, PNG Opposition leader Belden Namah has demanded O'Neill sack the senior government officials allegedly involved in the "illegal" flight.]

The two fugitives, Charles Henry Saken and Pascal Anh Quan Saken (Vanuatu naturalized citizen of Asian origin), wanted in Vanuatu in connection with issues concerning "Phocea" and its recent activities, arrived in PNG Thursday under false pretences identifying themselves as a Barrister and a comedian when presenting Diplomatic UN Passports.

At the time of the plane’s arrival, pilots and cabin crew requested Customs to allow a number of the crew to sleep on board the aircraft. Their request was denied and they were ordered to leave the airport. However, Immigration officers’ suspicions were thus further raised.

An hour after the cabin crew and pilots left the airport, they returned with plastic garbage bags claiming they wanted to clean the aircraft cabin. This convinced both police personnel and military intelligence that bags of cash are still on board the aircraft.

PNG’s CAA (Civil Aviation) and other appropriate authorities confirmed a shutdown of the aircraft until investigations confirm its legitimate arrival. As at Friday afternoon it was still grounded by CAA at Bay 3, Jacksons Airport and was being searched by police and navy personnel.

Further news relayed Friday is that Vanuatu’s Foreign Affairs Minister, who has pleaded not guilty in Port Vila’s Magistrates’ Court to charges of boarding "Phocea" last July before it was cleared into Vanuatu, is also in PNG on a private trip.

The intent of the arrival in the country of all these persons, sources report, is to obtain PNG registration for the yacht.

At this stage Phocea’s nationality – or more correctly lack of it- may well be causing some concern to those associated with her.

Vanuatu’s Ports and Harbours Department has this week received advice from the Malta Shipping Registry, that provisional Maltese registration for "Phocea" obtained in mid 2012 without any proof of ownership and other requirements for full registration, was cancelled as of January 14, 2013. The vessel is therefore now effectively stateless and remains under detention and at anchor in Port Vila Harbor.

Four rooms for the visitors to PNG were booked at Port Moresby’s Holiday Inn under one person's name while the cabin crew and pilots were booked at the Airways Hotel.

Vanuatu Daily Post:
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