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Papua New Guinea drops charge against Australian pilot

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ANKARA

An Australian pilot was cleared of charges for ignoring restrictions in Papua New Guinea against the novel coronavirus as a local court cited a lack of clarity in the legal measures.

David John Cutmore, 52, from Melbourne, had flown to Papua New Guinea late in July in a light aircraft allegedly violating coronavirus measures.

However, Magistrate Laura Wawun Kuvi of the Central Committee Court observed that the Pandemic Act “did not specify relevant procedures for prosecution,” the Post-Courier daily reported.

Cutmore illegally landed in the country in late July, pleading guilty to one charge of unlawful entry in breach of immigration laws. He neither possessed a passport nor a visa.

He had flown in from Mareebe in far North Queensland, Australia.

The Pacific island nation passed the 2020 Pandemic Act in June to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Authorities established a National Control Center to lead the national response against the virus.

However, the court said: “The Pandemic Act was new and should be looked into to include relevant provisions under the legislations specifically to do with process and procedures involving prosecuting offenders who break the Pandemic Act laws.”

Cutmore was ordered to remain in custody pending other charges.

Papua New Guinea has reported 549 cases of COVID-19 and seven coronavirus-related deaths. It has conducted 26,417 tests since the outbreak December last year.

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