War plane guns seized
Post Courier [ May 25, 2006 ]
By Jessie Lapou
TWO machine guns supposed to be shipped out of the country with the controversial American WWII B-17E bomber dubbed “Swamp Ghost” did not have export licences. Customs officers say the two machine guns were built into the plane but they had to have separate export permits.
Customs officers dismantled the guns and removed them from the plane and put them away safely.
The warplane has an export permit following an agreement signed between the National Museum Board of Trustees and American military firm Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation which allowed MARC to salvage the plane and restore it in the United States of America.
However, the plane will not be removed pending the outcome of the Public Accounts Committee inquiry on July 1. The PAC is a parliamentary committee that protects and investigates the use of public monies and state properties. Acting Attorney-General Fred Tomo said they were acting on a directive from the PAC to obtain a National Court injunction restraining the exportation of the warplane. Mr Tomo said his lawyers were getting information to establish how the agreement to allow the salvage and restoration of the plane was signed in the first place.
PAC Chairman John Hickey said the museum management had told him that $US100,000 (K320,000) was given as goodwill money to the state and to the Oro Provincial Government and the landowners. Mr Hickey said he had given the museum board of trustees and its management 24 hours to declare the plane a national heritage item. He said if investigations show that the plane had to be retained, part of the K320,000 should beused to have the plane transported back Northern Province