Papuan trials of a British mercenary

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The former British officer being held in Papua New Guinea after leading in a unit of mercenaries is to stand trial on charges of illegal possession of weapons.

Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer has been released on bail by magistrates at Port Moresby, but he has been ordered not to leave the country until the hearing on 8 April, and his passport has been impounded.

The Bosnia veteran pleaded not guilty to two charges of illegally carrying a Makarov 9mm pistol and 41 rounds of ammunition. Conviction on either or both counts could carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail, and/or a fine of 500 kina, around pounds 290.

Lt-Col Spicer will also be testifying on 1 April at a judicial inquiry into the validity of a $27m (pounds 17m) contract between his security company Sandline and the Papua New Guinea government of Sir Julius Chan, to counter guerrillas on Bougainville Island. The contract led to mutiny in the army and civilian riots.

Lt-Col Spicer, who is the last of the mercenaries left in Papua New Guinea after the others were rounded up and deported by the army, stressed: "There is nothing wrong with the activities of Sandline".