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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Concerns expressed over appointment of Moti as new AG

The Opposition says it deplores the appointment of Mr Moti as the country's new Attorney General.

At its meeting yesterday, the group described the appointment as a slap on the face for qualified Solomon Islands lawyers. The group says Mr Afeau remains the legitimate Attorney general because the post was never vacant, nor was it publicly advertised so other lawyers could apply.

Group Leader Fred Fono says the group was surprised with the Commission's appointment of the controversial lawyer. He says the appointment is a disgrace and an embarrassment to the people of Solomon Islands because proper official regulations and procedures were not followed. Mr Fono says Mr Moti could have a conflict of interest because he is connected to a legal firm that is representing the two detained M-Ps.

SIBC News understands that he was the founder and a partner in Pacific Lawyers, a local law firm. The company says he no longer works for them.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government says it is deeply concerned and disappointed at the appointment of Julian Moti. A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman says the decision has the potential to set back moves to improve good governance.

The official statement announcing Mr Moti's appointment said he was an adjunct professor in the faculty of law at Bond University in Queensland. The university said yesterday the position was voluntary and unpaid.

There has been widespread publicity given to an earlier ban on Mr Moti entering the Solomon Islands and the fact that he once represented a Chinese-Malaysian logging company. He was acquitted of had been charged with the statutory rape of a 13 year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997. Originally from Fiji and of ethnic Indian origin, Mr Moti studied law at Sydney University and is an Australian citizen.

Most members of the Solomon Islands bar boycotted his swearing-in as a Queen's Counsel in 2003.

Also, the former Member of Parliament for Central Guadalcanal Walton Naezon says the appointment of Julian Moti as the new Attorney General is an insult to local lawyers. Mr Naezon also questions what Mr Moti means when he said in the media the appointment is a reward for his role in promoting indigenous interests in Solomon Islands. He says Mr Moti was the lawyer who advised a former Solomon Mamaloni government on the Tasivarongo project which never took off. Mr Naezon said that agreement was also an insult to the then Guadalcanal Provincial government.

He also says given the various media reports about Mr Moti he is very surprised he's now the new Attorney General for Solomon Islands. Mr Naezon warns the image of Solomon Islands will be further tarnished with Mr Moti as Attorney General. He is appealing to the government to heed the views and reservations both local and overseas people have been making about Mr Moti.

In a related news, Attorney General Primo Afeau says he's received his termination letter. Mr Afeau says the letter was signed by the Chairman of the Justice and Legal Services Commission Sir Albert Palmer. The letter says the decision was made at a meeting of the Commission on the 6th of this month.

Mr Afeau says he's vacating his office yesterday, regardless of whether he agrees with the decision. He says he won't challenge the move but says he's engaged a lawyer to look at the issue.

Mr Afeau says he's not interested in becoming a high court judge given the Prime Minister publicly stated he was being removed for misconduct and insubordination. He says he doesn't know when the new Attorney General, Julian Moti will take up office.

Source: SIBC

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