Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boat people organiser charged



JONATHAN Baure, the organiser of the 130 Papua New Guineans who last week crossed illegally into Australia, has been arrested and charged with impersonation, The National reports.

The group, who attempted the Torres Strait crossing by a flotilla of boats to claim Australian citizenship, was returned to Daru Island on Saturday and Sunday on five charter planes where Baure was taken into custody and flown to Port Moresby.

He was locked up at the Boroko police station cell where spent the night. He was questioned yesterday before being charged.

Police said last night that Baure, 44, of Guruguru in Northern, had been charged under section 97(1)(b) of the Criminal Code for impersonating a public service officer.

The charge meant that he was providing illegal travel documents to the group, mostly from the Papuan provinces, to travel across the Torres Strait into Australia to pursue their interest.

Police said Baure would appear in court this week when his files were completed.

According to sources in Daru, Baure was initially arrested by Australian police and custom officials and was handed over to PNG customs and police when he was returned to Daru on Saturday.

They said he was put up at a lodge on the island before he was flown the next day, about 3.30pm to Port Moresby.

Australian authorities had chartered the planes to repatriate the group, who had claimed their Australian citizenship was illegally taken from them when PNG became independent in 1975.

Papua covers the southern half of the PNG mainland and the group claimed they were still Australian citizens because there had never been a referendum to legally sever ties with Australia.

But Immigration Department spokesman Sandi Logan told Radio Australia that they needed to follow correct procedures and lodge citizenship applications at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.

He said the vessels they arrived in Australia in would not be returned to them.

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