​Kokopo police intercept flight, detain soldiers

​A flight that was supposed to leave East New Britain’s Tokua Airport, en route for New Ireland Province, was intercepted by Kokopo police yesterday morning.

Provincial Police Commander, Joseph Tabali, confirms that this came about after they received information alleging that some soldiers were on the flight upon a candidate’s request.

It was claimed that the flight was sponsored by National Alliance endorsed candidate for Namatanai, Walter Schnaubelt.

All 23 of them disembarked from the plane and were taken to the Kokopo Police Station where they were searched and questioned.

Police found out that three were soldiers of the PNG Defence Force.

“As of yesterday, after receiving instructions from Murray Barracks in Port Moresby, the three have been detained,” reveals Tabali.

He adds that since today is a public holiday, the PNGDF in Murray Barracks will arrange for military police to travel to Kokopo to escort the soldiers back to Port Moresby to be dealt with.

PPC Tabali said police did not find any weaponry however, they did find some important documents belonging to the Electoral Commission.

“We had the ENB Election Manager confirm the validity of the documents, where he was surprised that the men were in possession of the documents,” said PPC Tabali.

Police are now liaising with the Electoral Commission to find the appropriate charges.

“We could not charge the 20 others for election offences because polling hasn’t begun yet. My investigators are still questioning them.”

The PPC said among the contingent was a woman who is supposedly working for Schnaubelt's security company.

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Annette Kora