THE international border between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands has again been breached.
In the latest incident, an American citizen was arrested in Buin, South Bougainville after entering the country illegally by boat from the Solomons. He was taken by police to Buka, where he was interrogated then deported.
The man, who identified himself to Bougainville police as Robert Ribble Weedn, was caught crossing the border from the Solomon Islands without a valid entry visa.
Weedn, 57, from California in the United States, told police he had travelled to Bougainville to buy gold from Noel Musingku aka King David Peii in Tonu, South Bougainville.
King Peii has declared Tonu a separate kingdom and is setting up his own economic system, including a unique currency. After his arrest in Buin, Weedn was brought to Buka police station via Arawa on October 29. He was then deported.
Northern Bougainville police commander Spencer Aili, in a statement prepared for this newspaper, said the detainee ‘alleged’ that he had heard about the King back in his home country in America from a lawyer from the Netherlands.
He said the lawyer informed him that he was the ambassador of the said King from Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.
“He said the lawyer advised him that the King was selling gold and other mineral resources at cheap prices.”
Attracted by the lure of cheap gold, Weedn travelled to Honiara in the Solomon Islands via Fiji. He arrived in Buin on October 22 where he was apprehended by local police and was later brought to Buka.
Mr Aili said, “The suspect was interrogated by my intelligence unit and his passport and visa were checked”.
He said Weedn was further advised not to repeat the same thing, but was told that if he still wanted to come to Bougainville he could do so through Port Moresby where clearance would be given since there is no immigration office in Bougainville.
“Eventually he was sent back to the Solomon Islands through the same channel he came in.”
Mr Aili sent a stern message to others that may be considering entering Bougainville illegally.
“We have seen that there are many more illegal immigrants in the region. We will work around the clock to ensure illegal immigrants be deported to their respective countries,” Mr Aili said.
“If any foreigner wants to come to the Autonomous Region Bougainville whether on business or work or as a tourist, he or she must seek proper clearance in Port Moresby’s Immigration Office first. There is law in Bougainville and all the laws must be respected at all times just as you respect your laws in your country.”