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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Solomon government set to swear in Julian Moti as Attorney General next week

Australian fugitive Julian Moti will be appointed as the Solomon Islands Attorney-General next week.

Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's office has confirmed a public service ban against Mr Moti will be lifted by the end of the week. Mr Sogavare says Australia has provided no evidence of alleged sex offences against Mr Moti.

The Prime Minister's office says the Solomon Islands courts have cleared Mr Moti of illegal entry charges and he is expected to be sworn into office on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister, Deli Oso, says Mr Moti will take up his delayed appointment because Australia has failed to prove its charges against him.

"They have had ample time to prove their case but have not presented anything to the Government," Mr Oso said.

Mr Sogavare says a legal team will be in Canberra at the weekend to meet with Australian authorities to attempt to resolve the impasse.

Mr Moti evaded extradition proceedings when he was flown from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands on a secret PNG military flight in defiance of the wishes of the Australian authorities.

The leader of the Solomon Opposition, Fred Fono, says Mr Moti still has a shadow over his head and the decision to allow his appointment reflects badly on Mr Sogavare.

"We're disappointed because any officer, public officer for that matter, that has charges laid against him needs to clear his name up," Mr Fono said.

Mr Sogavare has claimed that Australia is only pursuing Mr Moti for political gain and he has repeatedly refused his extradition, causing a major diplomatic rift between the two countries.

Source: ABC News

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