Mercenaries win pounds 20m for failed mission

SANDLINE International, the controversial British mercenary company, is to be paid more than $30m (pounds 20m) compensation by the government of Papua New Guinea after a bitter international court battle.

An international arbitration tribunal has ruled that the Pacific island state should pay the money, following Sandline's involvement in an aborted anti-terrorist operation on Bougainville Island in 1997 that almost sparked a coup. Colonel Tim Spicer, a Sandline executive and Falklands veteran, was arrested and deported.

Sandline is run by Mr Spicer, a former British special forces officer, and Tony Buckingham, a flamboyant businessman. The company has been involved in a number of controversial operations. Earlier this year it was at the centre of the "arms-to-Sierra Leone" scandal which caused great embarrassment to the Foreign Office and Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary. Sandline executives maintained that they had told the Foreign Office of their involvement in assisting in the overthrow of rebels in Sierra Leone.

The Papua New Guinea contract arose from the long dispute between the government and Melanesian secessionists on Bougainville Island. About 20,000 islanders - one in seven of the population - have died in the conflict.

The deputy prime minister and defence minister of Papua New Guinea turned to Sandline "security consultants" after Bougainville rebels cut off a major copper mine - a vital income generator for the country. They contracted Sandline to provided military personnel and equipment and paid $18m of the agreed $36m fee up front. By February 1997, Sandline's 80- man special forces team was in the capital Port Moresby, ready to help the Papua New Guinea defence Force (PNGDF) to clear the insurgents.

However, the involvement of foreign troops angered the PNG army, which threatened mutiny. When Sandline's presence was revealed, riots broke out in Port Moresby and the security of the whole region stood at risk. Sandline's team was arrested and deported. Col Spicer was beaten up and charged with firearm offences. He gave evidence to a judicial inquiry that was instrumental in the downfall of the government led by Julius Chan.

Since then, the new government of Bill Skate has refused to pay the outstanding $18m. It has argued that the contract with the previous administration was illegal and unconstitutional. Sandline appealed, and under international law, a tribunal of three former appeal court judges was convened. Sandline proposed the retired English judge, Sir Michael Kerr. Papua New Guinea proposed former Australian judge Sir Darryl Dawson. The chairman is Sir Edward Somers of New Zealand. They have held a series of hearings.

Last week the tribunal awarded in favour of Sandline. The judges ruled that, regardless of what Papua New Guinea's laws might say, under international law, the contract was valid. It awarded Sandline the $18m fee, plus other costs and interest, totalling more than $30m.

Last night, Sandline declined to comment on the case. "We can't comment without the agreement of the other party," said a spokeswoman.

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books